Warburton announces retirement after momentous career

Charlie Peat
18 July 2018

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Cardiff Blues veteran Sam Warburton has called time on his distinguished rugby career after nine years of service with the Welsh region.

The 29-year-old flanker made his debut for his hometown side in 2009, going on to play more than 170 times for the Blues.

In a statement, Warburton revealed he has been forced to retire from the game after struggling to recover from several injuries since the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand last summer.

He said: “Unfortunately, after a long period of rest and rehabilitation the decision to retire from rugby has been made with my health and wellbeing as a priority as my body is unable to give me back what I had hope for on my return to training.

“I cannot thank the Welsh Rugby Union and Cardiff Blues enough, who have gone beyond the call of duty, in providing the support I received to help me get back on the field, for which I will be forever grateful.

“There are so many people who helped me along the way from schoolteachers, coaches, friends and family. I thank you so much for supporting my dreams and aspirations. I hope they too can take some pride from my career.

“I would like the make special mention of Warren Gatland. Without the faith he had in me and his unwavering support I would never have had the career I was able to pursue.

“Countless people work behind the scenes in professional rugby but I would like to thank to the fantastic medical teams at both WRU and Cardiff Blues who have looked after me throughout my career.

“To my amazing wife Rachel and my close family and friends who have endured the emotional rollercoaster of playing professional rugby, I am so lucky to have such a fantastic support network and loving family to help me get through all the testing times.

“Lastly, to all the many fans, with whom I’ve shared some fantastic memories with, from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for all your support.

“From providing a random hug in a supermarket, or simply offering words of support and encouragement, to hearing a cheer after my name was announced at the national stadium, you are what makes playing professional rugby so special and such a privilege. It’s been an absolute pleasure to represent you all and an honour I’ll sorely miss.

“As one chapter finishes, another begins, which I’ll enter with the same level of passion and determination as the last.”

Just two months after making his club debut Warburton turned out for Wales against USA in 2009 – going on to make 74 appearances for his country.

Warburton led the nation out 49 times as captain and helped Wales to a historic Six Nations Grand Slam in 2012 before being part of the side that retained the trophy a year later.

The totemic flanker also captained the British & Irish Lions on two tours – overseeing a historic 2-1 series victory in Australia in 2013 and a 1-1 draw in New Zealand in 2017.

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