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Aviva Premiership
Richard Birkett forced to retire
ESPN Staff
October 17, 2012
Wasps' Richard Birkett claims a lineout throw, Northampton v Wasps, Aviva Premiership, Franklin's Gardens, Northampton, England, March 24, 2012
Richard Birkett has been forced to retire © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Richard Birkett
Tournaments/Tours: Aviva Premiership
Teams: England | Wasps

Wasps second-row Richard Birkett has called time on his professional rugby career after failing to recover from a neck injury.

Birkett suffered a head on collision during Wasps' A League game with the Saracens Storm earlier this year and after seeking specialist advice, he has been advised to retire from the sport.

Birkett was a one-club man having made his debut for Wasps back in 1999. He played a key role in their charge to four Premiership titles between 2003 and 2008 and also won the Heineken Cup in 2004. Birkett is now the seventh Wasps player to retire from injury in the past couple of seasons with Dan Ward Smith, Tom Rees, Steve Thompson, Joe Worsley, John Hart and Nic Berry also forced to call time on their careers.

"After 14 years of rugby with London Wasps my body has unfortunately given up on me," Birkett said. "However, I leave the game content in the fact that I was a part of an amazing era in Wasps history. Those memories will never leave me and I'm incredibly proud of what we achieved. I've made some fantastic friends along the way and I have enjoyed almost every minute.

"The timing of my departure from the game is disappointing for me as I will not be able to be part of the new era at Wasps, which I genuinely believe has enormous potential. It's been a pleasure working with such raw young talent and I'm sure that Dai and the rest of the coaching team will continue to create a team to be reckoned with."

Dai Young, Wasps' director of rugby, added: "Since I came to the club last season, Richard has been an integral part of the squad. As a senior player he has been a leader both on and off of the field. In the modern game it is very rare that a player will stay with a club for their whole career but Birky has been a key component of this club for a 14 year period and he will be a loss to us.

"He formed a tremendous partnership with Simon Shaw throughout a very successful period for the club and although he didn't get the international recognition that others in that side did, he was a fundamental part of their success and will go down as a true Wasps great."

Birkett was Wasps' representative on the Rugby Players' Association Players' Board and their rugby director David Barnes paid tribute to Birkett saying: "Rich is one of the longest serving one club players in the Aviva Premiership and it must be a huge blow to Wasps to lose such an experienced player. It's also a great shame to be losing Rich from the RPA Players' Board as our incumbent Wasps' Rep as he's hugely respected by his peers and provides a voice of authority within the game.

"As with all of our RPA members we will continue to support Rich and his family through our Player Development Programme as he makes the transition from professional sport to a second career."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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