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Hodgson and Mears retire from Test rugby
ESPN Staff
June 28, 2012
England fly-half Charlie Hodgson slides over after his successful chargedown, Italy v England, Six Nations, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy, February 11, 2012
Charlie Hodgson touches down for England © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Charlie Hodgson | Lee Mears
Teams: England

England duo Charlie Hodgson and Lee Mears have both announced their retirement from international rugby.

Both players featured on England's recent tour to South Africa with Hodgson starting the two midweek matches and Mears seeing action off the bench in the first and third Tests. But with England focused on the 2015 World Cup, they have decided, in conjunction with coach Stuart Lancaster, to step aside ahead of next month's Elite Player Squad announcement.

"Firstly, both Charlie and Lee in the last six months have been outstanding senior players and I cannot thank them enough for the support they have given me and this young squad as we move forward," Lancaster said. "With 80 caps between them (Hodgson 38, Mears 42) they have a vast amount of experience and that has been invaluable.

"I had chats with both of them in South Africa and our thoughts were not too dissimilar - that if we are building a team for 2015 then, just as we did in January, we have to decide on which players will take us forward and be in the mix in three years' time."

Hodgson made his England debut back in 2001 and has since collected 38 caps for the national side. He scored two tries during the recent Six Nations where he started the first two matches of the tournament against Scotland and Italy.

But Hodgson lost his fly-half place to Owen Farrell for the rest of the competition and he will now focus on his domestic duties with Aviva Premiership side Saracens. "I have been very proud to represent England over the last 11 years," Hodgson said. "Wearing the shirt has always been the highest honour for me, not least in the last six months, and no-one would want to give that up.

"But Stuart and I came to the same conclusion that the time is right to let a new group of fly-halves take England forward. Saracens have been very good to me and been key to me getting back on the international scene and I can now fully focus on them, not to mention a young family."

Mears earned British & Irish Lions Test honours back in 2009 when he started the first Test against the Springboks and was also part of the England squad that journeyed to the 2007 and 2011 World Cup. With 43 caps to his name, Mears will now look to tie down the hooker berth at Bath next season with fellow England hooker Rob Webber a new addition at the club.

"The memories of playing international rugby will live with me forever," Mears said. "I feel privileged and proud to have experienced two World Cups and a British Lions tour and to have had outstanding team-mates. While I won't be a part of it, having seen what Stuart has implemented over the Six Nations and in South Africa, I am excited about the future of this group of players and English rugby and I wish them all the best. I have at least one more year at Bath left and with a new coaching team I am excited about next season."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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