Class of 2022: Retiring Players XV

Class of 2022: Retiring Players XV

The 2021/22 season is drawing to a close which means several players will be bringing their careers to an end.

We take a look at these players in the form of XV.


 

1. Rhys Gill - Cardiff

CARDIFF, WALES - SEPTEMBER 01: Cardiff Blues' Rhys Gill during the Guinness Pro14 Round 1 match between Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh Rugby Cardiff Arms Park at on September 1, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Kevin Barnes - CameraSport via Getty Images)

The 35-year-old loosehead prop brings an end to a 17-year long career. A product of the Cardiff Academy, Rhys Gill returned to his home region in 2016 for a second stint following a seven-year spell with Saracens.


Gill broke into the Wales senior set-up and won his first cap against Ireland in 2010. He won a Grand Slam with Wales in 2012 and picked up three Premiership-winning medals, and lifted the European Champions Cup in his final season with Saracens. He played over 100 games for Saracens and Cardiff during his career.

Argentina's oldest ever test debutant, Carlos Muzzio is also finishing his career up at the age of 37. Muzzio made his test debut last year against South Africa just a week before his 37th birthday. Hee departed Argentina for France in 2010 to join Vannes and subsequently played for Tarbes, and Mont de Marsan. He has been part of Mont de Marsan's squad since 2014.


 

2. Guilhem Guirado - Montpellier

Montpellier's Guilhem Guirado lifts the trophy after the final whistle during the European Rugby Challenge Cup Final match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Friday May 21, 2021. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

There is no shortage of options at hooker, with several high-profile no.2s bringing an end to their careers.

Former France captain Guilhem Guirado is among the picks of the bunch. The 35-year-old was part of France's under-21 World Cup-winning team in 2006 and went on to play 74 times for Les Bleus' senior side, 32 as captain.

 

Guirado represented his country in the 2011, 2015, and 2019 Rugby World Cups reaching the final in his first. He started his club career with Perpignan, where he won his first Top 14 title in 2009. When Perpignan were relegated, he moved to Toulon, where he won the Champions Cup in 2016 and 2017. After the 2019 Rugby World Cup, he made the move to Montpellier, where he won the Challenge Cup title last season. 

He could finish his career with another Top 14 title as Montpellier are in a position to make the playoffs.

 

The longlist of retiring hookers includes Leicester Tigers legend Tom Youngs who announced his retirement during the season. Youngs ends his career with 215 appearances for Leicester, along with 28 Test caps for England and three appearances for the Lions. 

 

Former Ireland hooker Seán Cronin is also bringing an end to his career; he won 72 Ireland caps and travelled to World Cups in 2011, 2015 and 2019. He helped Ireland to Six Nations triumphs in 2014 and 2015 and was part of the Grand Slam-winning squad of 2018.

 

Also, Harlequins' hooker Joe Gray will move into coaching at the end of the season, taking the top job at London Scottish. One of Harlequins' most decorated players, he has amassed over 175 appearances for the Club and is the first player to win every domestic trophy. He played integral roles in three Premiership titles, one Champions Cup, one Challenge Cup, one Greene King IPA Championship, two LV= Cups and one British and Irish Cup during his time with Harlequins and Saracens.

 

3. Scott Andrews - Cardiff Rugby

Three experienced tighthead props are in the final seasons' of their career.

Former Wales international and Cardiff tighthead Scott Andrews (32) finishes up his career that included just shy of 200 appearances for the club. He won the Six Nations and Challenge Cup and spent time with Bath and Worcester Warriors during his playing career.

 

Moldovan prop Vadim Cobilas is rumoured to be ending his career, but recent reports suggest he may sign a new deal with Bordeaux Begles to extend his career past his 39th birthday.

 

Former Japan prop Kensuke Hatakeyama, part of the famous Brave Blossoms side that beat South Africa at the 2015 World Cup in England, is also retiring. The 36-year-old, who also played at the 2011 tournament in New Zealand, started 2015’s 34-32 win in Brighton under Eddie Jones and helped Japan win three games at the tournament as they went out in the pool phase.

 

Hatakeyama, capped 78 times for Japan, played for Suntory in Japan as well as Newcastle Falcons in England and New England Free Jacks in the United States prior to his current and last club, Toyota Industries Shuttles Aichi in Japan’s third tier.

 

4. Devin Toner - Leinster

Dublin , Ireland - 27 March 2021; Devin Toner of Leinster and his teammates celebrate with the the PRO14 trophy after the Guinness PRO14 Final match between Leinster and Munster at the RDS Arena in Dublin. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland and Leinster stalwart second-row Devin Toner has announced his retirement at the conclusion of the current season. 

 

The 35-year-old has put together a career to be proud of, including 70 caps for his country and becoming the most capped player in Leinster history. Toner is the holder of 3 Six Nations winners’ medals and was part of the 2018 Grand Slam-winning side. Domestically, he has won four Heineken Cup titles, a Challenge Cup title and seven league titles.

 

Premiership Rugby stalwart Matt Garvey also brings an end to his career this campaign. The 34-year-old brings the curtain down on a 13-year playing career that took him from London Irish, to Bath, then Gloucester with his final season coming with Warriors. Garvey also won representative honours with England Saxons and captained Bath between 2017 and 2019 during his seven-year stint at The Rec.

 

5. George Kruis - Panasonic Wild Knights

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 24: George Kruis of the Lions is tackled by Owen Franks (L) and Sam Cane (R) of the All Blacks during the first test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park on June 24, 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

George Kruis announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of the current Japanese season to focus on his business.

 

Kruis was linked with a return to the Premiership but has hung up his boots on a career that saw him represent Saracens, England, The British and Irish Lions, and the Wild Knights.

 


He won 45 caps for England and represented the Lions in 2017 against New Zealand. He won four Premiership titles and three European Champions Cups during his 11 years at Saracens before leaving to join the Japanese side Wild Knights for the 2020/21 season. He was also a part of two Six Nations triumphs for England, including the Grand Slam in 2016, after making his debut for his country against New Zealand at Twickenham in 2014.

 

38-year-old Top 14 legend Joe Tekori will also bring an end to his career.

 

The 30 plus test Samoan international has played well over 400 matches between his stints at Castres and Toulouse. He won the Top 14 title with Castres in 2013, adding two more with Toulouse as well as a Champions Cup trophy.

 

Stormers lock David Meihuizen announced his retirement during the season after troubles with injuries, while Harlequins stalwart Matt Symons also calls time on his career.

 

Symons, 32, calls time on an 11-year playing career that began in Esher and saw him travel to New Zealand to captain the Chiefs before returning to England to play in the Premiership for London Irish, Wasps and, finally, Harlequins. A totemic figure within the Quins side that claimed the 2020/21 Premiership title in dramatic fashion, Symons will close his career having played over 80 times in the Quartered jersey over the last four years.

 

6. Fulgence Ouedraogo - Montpellier

Fulgence OUEDRAOGO of Montpellier exit during the Top 14 match between Montpellier and Racing 92 on May 21, 2022 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Alexpress/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Montpellier's final home match of the regular season marked the end of an era at the French club.

 

35-year-old one-club legend Fulgence Ouedraogo was Montpellier's first player to represent France and has played well over 300 matches for the club. He was part of both of Montpellier's Challenge Cup victories and helped France secure a Six Nations Grand Slam in 2010 and was part of the 2011 Rugby World Cup side that reached the Rugby World Cup final.

 

Another one-club French stalwart ends his career with 34-year-old Antoine Burban hanging up his boots after 16 years at Stade Francais.

 

Former South African u20s captain Wiaan Liebenberg, surprisingly announced his retirement in February this year. The U20 World Championship winner progressed through the Bulls ranks before signing for Montpellier in 2015. He spent three seasons at the club and even captained the side before moving to La Rochelle in 2018. There he has played an integral part of the side that has reached back-to-back Champions Cup finals.

 

Former England back-rower Don Armand also brings an end to his career which saw him win the Champions Cup and two Premiership titles with the Exeter Chiefs.

 

Earlier in the year, Sale Sharks back-rower James Phillips sustained a double fracture of his jaw in a pre-season and has since retired on medical advice.

 

7. Sean O'Brien - London Irish

Auckland , New Zealand - 24 June 2017; Sean O'Brien of the British & Irish Lions goes over to score his side's first try during the First Test match between New Zealand All Blacks and the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo By Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Leinster, Ireland, and British & Irish Lions back-rower Sean O'Brien will bring a storied 14-year career to a conclusion this summer. 

 

O'Brien spent eleven seasons with Leinster, winning four Pro12/ Pro14 league titles, four Champions Cups and an Amlin Challenge Cup, whilst also earning the ERC European Player of the Year accolade in 2011. He was also capped 56 times for Ireland between 2009 and 2019 and represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours, firstly to Australia in 2013 and then to New Zealand in 2017. The man known as The Tullow Tank joined London Irish in December 2019.

 

36-year-old former France flanker Damien Chouly is finishing up his career with Perpignan after a 18-year long career which also saw him represent Brive and Clermont. He earned 48 test caps for France too and won two Top 14 titles.

 

Scarlets' fan favourite James Davies announced his retirement with immediate effect during the season because of concussions. The 11 test Wales international made his Scarlets debut in an LV=Cup game against the Dragons in 2013. He has since made 101 appearances in a Scarlets jersey, establishing himself as one of the leading opensides in the then PRO12 and PRO14.

 

8. Louis Picamoles - Bordeaux Begles

Louis PICAMOLES of Bordeaux thanks fans of Montpellier during the Top 14 match between Montpellier and Bordeaux at GGL Stadium on April 24, 2022 in Montpellier, France. (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Alexpress/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

King Louis may have already played his final game with an injury threatening his involvement in the latter stages of the season for Bordeaux.

 

Louis Picamoles played his 82nd and final game for France during the 2019 Rugby World Cup and captained the side against the USA. The powerful no.8 was widely regarded as one of the finest no.8s in the game throughout his career representing the likes of Montpellier (two stints), Toulouse, Northampton Saints and Bordeaux Begles.

 

He played in three Rugby World Cups for France and won two Top 14 titles and a Champions Cup title during his career.

 

In February, Newcastle Falcons captain Mark Wilson retired from rugby with immediate effect after a string of injuries. The 32-year-old came through the club’s academy and scored 42 tries in his 237 games; he also won 23 caps for England between 2017 and 2021, playing in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final and winning the 2020 Six Nations Championship.

 

Also, it is widely believed that La Rochelle back-rower Victor Vito is in his final season of professional rugby despite not announcing his retirement. The double Rugby World Cup winner with the All Blacks has hinted that he will retire at the end of the season but is yet to officially bring an end to his storied career that also includes a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes and over 100 appearances for the Canes and La Rochelle.

 

9. Rory Kockett - Castres

Rory Kockott of Castres looks on during the European Rugby Champions Cup Round 6 match between Munster Rugby and Castres Olympique at Thomond Park in Limerick, Ireland on January 21, 2018 (Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

A double Top 14 champion, Rory Kockott ends his playing career with Castres this season. 

 

The former Les Bleus scrumhalf has cemented legendary status at Castres, having arrived from the Sharks in 2011. Popular French rugby website Rugby Rama wrote this about him in a recent article: Kockott perfectly embodied the DNA of the CO [Castres], so much so that he certainly became more Castrese than the Castrese themselves.'

 

There aren't too many other scrum-halves calling time on their careers this season but former Springbok and Lions halfback Ross Cronje did announce his retirement in January after 150 appearances for the franchise.

 

10. Francois Trinh-Duc - Bordeaux Begles

Francois TRINH DUC of Bordeaux Begles during the Top 14 match between Bordeaux and Toulon at Stade Chaban-Delmas on May 1, 2022 in Bordeaux, France. (Photo by Anthony Dibon/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Francois Trinh-Duc's storied career comes to an after 18 years.

 

The 35-year-old played for Montpellier, Racing 92, Toulon, and Bordeaux during his career and represented France on 66 occasions between 2008 and 2018.

 

Fellow French stalwart Lionel Beauxis has also played his final match. Beauxis played for seven clubs over his career featuring for Pau, Stade Français, Toulouse, Bordeaux-Bègles, Lyon, Oyonnax and Béziers. Collectively he played over 300 professional games, including 24 tests for France.

 

Welsh flyhalf Jason Tovey has also announced his retirement having played for Cardiff, Edinburgh and the Dragons.

 

11. Hallam Amos - Cardiff

Cardiff and Wales outside back Hallam Amos announced that he will retire at the end of the season to focus on his medical career.

 

The 27-year-old joined Cardiff ahead of the 2019-20 season having previously come through the ranks at the Dragons, where he spent nine years. He earned 25 test caps for Wales.

 

Connacht’s all-time record try-scorer Matt Healy has also announced that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the season. A PRO12 winner in 2016 and an Irish international, Healy scored 58 tries in 151 appearances for the province since he joined the club in 2012.

 

12. George Taylor - Edinburgh

George TAYLOR of Edinburgh during the Round of 16 Champions Cup match between Racing 92 and Edinburgh Rugby at Paris La Defense Arena on April 4, 2021 in Nanterre, France. (Photo by Matthieu Mirville/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

George Taylor has not featured this season due to concussions and called time on his career at the age of 25. Taylor made 38 appearances for Edinburgh - scoring six tries - since making his professional debut against Munster in November 2018.

 

Taylor is one of the few centres who will be hanging up their boots this campaign.

 

13. Mathieu Bastareaud - Lyon
PARIS - MARCH 20: Centre Mathieu Bastareaud of France celebrates with the trophy after winning the Grand Slam and Championship during the RBS Six Nations Championship match between France and England at the Stade de France on March 20, 2010 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Another former France captain is expected to hang up his boots with Mathieu Bastareaud's career coming to an end at the age of 33.

 

Bastareaud's contract with Lyon expires at the end of the season and a tough run of injuries is expected to see him retire at the end of the season, according to Midi Olympique. Bastareaud has undergone surgery on both knees recently and has been linked with a return to Toulon in a coaching capacity where he will work with the club's 18s with Olivier Beaudon.

 

Bastareaud earned 54 test caps for France and represented his country at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. In September 2018, he won Best International Player for France at the Nuit du Rugby ceremony in France. He also secured a Grand Slam with France in 2010.

 

During his career, he won the Top 14 title with Stade Francais and was part of the successful Toulon side that won a Top 14 title and three Champions Cup trophies. He also enjoyed a stint in America with Rugby New York.

 

14. Charlie Sharples - Gloucester

Gloucester legend Charlie Sharples announced his retirement in February this year.

 

The Cherry and White winger played 275 times for his childhood club and has scored 455 points. An England international, Sharples played for his country four times, scoring twice against Fiji at Twickenham in the 2011 Autumn Internationals.

 

He won the LV=Cup with Gloucester as well as the Challenge Cup.

 

15. Maxime Medard - Toulouse

Maxime MEDARD of Toulouse celebrates the victory during the Top 14 match between Toulouse and La Rochelle at Stade Ernest Wallon on April 30, 2022 in Toulouse, France. (Photo by Alexandre Dimou/Alexpress/Icon Sport via Getty Images)

Another French legend rounds off our team with Toulouse legend Maxime Medard playing out his final season of professional rugby.

 

 The 35-year-old fullback has represented Toulouse for the past 18-years accumulating over 340 appearances and over 110 tries.

 

The one-club legend has also won three Champions Cup titles and five Top 14 trophies during his career.

 

He also represented his country 63 times between 2008 and 2019, appearing in the 2011 and 2019 Rugby World Cups.

 

All Blacks great Ben Smith has confirmed he is weighing up retirement too. The 84-test All Black saw out the Japan Rugby League One season with the Steelers but said: "In another couple of weeks, I will sort of weigh it up, and retirement could definitely be on the cards."

 

Finally, Biarritz fullback Ximun Lucu has also called time on his career at the age of 32.

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