Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Thomas calls time on playing career

Gareth Thomas

Wales dual-code international Gareth Thomas has announced his retirement from all forms of rugby with immediate effect.

The news was broken by Emanuele Palladino, from Thomas' management company Distinct, just four days before the former British and Irish Lion was due to play for Wales against England in the Gillette Four Nations Series.

Palladino said in a statement: "We can confirm that Gareth Thomas is officially retiring from both international and club rugby with immediate effect. This marks the end of what has been a remarkable career for a remarkable person. Gareth hopes that through his achievements both on and off the field he has left a lasting legacy within the game."

Thomas switched codes with Wrexham-based Super League club Crusaders two years ago and, following their demise, was poised for a shock move to Wigan. The 37-year-old, whose last game of rugby was for Crusaders on July 9, said he took the decision after coming to the conclusion that he could no longer give 100%.

"I have listened to and discussed this decision with many of my family and close friends," he said. "My mind has told me that the time to retire is now.

"If you can't give 100% to rugby then you can't do it justice. This is a sad day but I know that my time has come to an end as a player. My passion for the amazing game will never end or leave me, however."

After making his Test debut against Japan in 1995, Thomas became the first man to win 100 caps for Wales, a record tally that was recently surpassed by Stephen Jones.

Thomas hit the headlines in December 2009 by announcing he was gay and three months later switched codes to play rugby league. He became a dual-code international and captained Wales to a 12-11 win over France in Albi which enabled them to win the European Cup and earn promotion to the Four Nations.

Thomas' life is set to be portrayed in a film by American actor Mickey Rourke, who was fascinated by the player's bravery in revealing his homosexuality.

"I do not know what lies ahead but I feel the challenge of something different excites me more than another year of rugby." Thomas said.

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