Al Baxter announces retirement
June 8, 2011
Al Baxter looks on in Waratahs training © Getty Images
Al Baxter, the most-capped prop in the history of Australian rugby, has announced that he will retire at the end of the 2011 season.
The Waratahs tight-head enjoyed 11 years in Super Rugby, having made his debut in 2000 against the Bulls, and played a record 69 Tests for the Wallabies.
The 34-year-old was a key member of squads that reached the 2003 Rugby World Cup final and the quarter-finals in 2007. However, he feels now is the right time to hang up his boots and pursue his other interests.
"It's a tough decision to make, but the more I've thought about it the clearer it's come to me that it is the right decision to make," he said.
"My body is holding up but it's certainly taken its fair share of collisions and contortions over the years and I'd rather make the decision to call it a day before my body does it for me.
"I never could have dreamt that I'd have the career that I've had. I loved my rugby at school and continued it at Norths but I always thought I'd be an architect who played a bit of club rugby. We won the second grade Grand Final in 1998 which is still one of my greatest rugby memories and the following year moved into first grade.
"Matt Williams called me into the NSW team for the Ricoh Cup in 1999 and that was the turning point. I went into the Super Rugby program from November that year and the rest is the history."
Baxter has made himself available for Wallabies selection and still hopes to play in the World Cup in New Zealand in September.
"Probably my Wallaby debut, that's always a massive one, when you're handed that Wallaby jersey it's an extraordinary feeling," Baxter told the Daily Telegraph. "It's a huge honour and a privilege and I have vivid memories to these days. Playing in the World Cups is pretty special [too], especially the one here in Australia.
"When we made that World Cup final it felt like we had the country behind us, everywhere we went we got massive support, it was just a great feeling to be able to play in that game."
Baxter reached 100 Super Rugby caps against the Cheetahs in 2010 and currently sits second on the all time Waratahs list, four behind Phil Waugh. He already works for Cox Richardson Architects, when he's not on the rugby field, and has set up the Sustainable Forward Consulting Group with Chris Andrew and his front-row companion Tatafu Polota-Nau.
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