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'Brutal and sad': Kevin Gourdon has retired with immediate effect

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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La Rochelle have announced a pre-Christmas bombshell – the retirement of ex-French national team back-rower Kevin Gourdon at just the of 31. A statement from the Top 14 club outlined that the forward learned this week that he is suffering from a heart problem just weeks before his 32nd birthday.  

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“The 31-year-old French international back row Kevin Gourdon learned this week that a heart problem is forcing him to put an immediate end to his sports career,” read the la Rochelle statement.

“Having arrived in 2012, Kevin played 221 matches in the Rochelle jersey and was selected 19 times for France. He had just extended his engagement for two more seasons with the club.”

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La Rochelle president Vincent Merling said: “Kevin, the man he is, his loyalty to the club, his immense talent, make him an emblematic player of the culture and of the identity of La Rochelle. 

“He is now forced to abruptly end his career and quite logically prioritise his health. He will be sorely missed as we continue to write the history of the ‘Yellow and Black’ to which he has already contributed so extensively. Kevin and his family can be assured of the full support of La Rochelle.”

Gourdon added: “This is brutal and sad news, but my health is a priority. Unfortunately, this is something you just don’t have control over, I can’t do anything to make the situation any different, so I have no regrets. I was lucky to have a busy career, I have experienced a lot with La Rochelle, Pro D2, the fight to stay in Top 14 and then a few years later the final stages.

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“I also had the pride to play with the XV of France. It’s a lot of memories, of emotions, but I have to look to a new part of my life, maybe a little sooner than I expected, but which I am sure will be just as fulfilling.” Gourdon will speak directly to La Rochelle supporters at Stade Marcel Deflandre before the start of the December 27 Top 14 match versus Lyon. 

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