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Ex-England centre Billy Twelvetrees calls time on his career

By Josh Raisey
Billy Twelvetrees of England looks on during the International match between France and England at Stade de France on August 22, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Former England international Billy Twelvetrees has announced his retirement from rugby at the age of 35.

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The 22-cap England centre spent the final season of his career in the Championship with winners Ealing Trailfinders having previously been a regular in the Gallagher Premiership for over a decade.

After starting his professional career with the Bedford Blues, Twelvetrees joined Leicester Tigers in 2009. While at Welford Road, he sprung onto the England radar, and was selected for the Saxons in 2011.

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Following a move to Gloucester in 2012, Twelvetrees was called into England’s senior squad by Stuart Lancaster, and made a try-scoring debut against Scotland in 2013.

Later that year, he was drafted into Warren Gatland’s British & Irish Lions squad midway through their tour of Australia, but did not feature in a Test against the Wallabies.

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Then-Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys named the Englishman club captain ahead of the 2014/15 season, where he would lead the club to European Challenge Cup success at the end of the campaign.

He would go on to play 22 times for England, with his final cap coming in a World Cup warm-up Test in 2015 before failing to make Lancaster’s final squad. Though adept at playing at fly-half, every one of Twelvetrees’ starts for England came in the centres.

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Despite his international career ending in 2015, Twelvetrees remained a stalwart for the Cherry and Whites in the midfield before bringing his 11-year stay at Kingsholm to an end last year. He made over 270 appearances for the West Country outfit.

Gloucester director of rugby George Skivington described the former player as a “club legend” when he left in 2023.

“Billy is such a quality individual as a bloke and as a rugby player,” he said.

“I have known him a long time and I have got all the time in the world for him. There is no doubt that he will be considered a club legend for his contribution to this club and this city over the last decade.”

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Twelvetrees’ most recent boss Ben Ward after his retirement was announced: “Although we only had Billy with us for a year, he made a big impact on our squad. His career speaks for itself and he can be incredibly proud of all that he has achieved.

“We will miss him as a player, but more than that, he is one of the good guys and a really good bloke that we will miss even more. We wish him all the best for the future.”

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Comments

4 Comments
T
Toaster 20 days ago

Well done 36

s
simon 21 days ago

What a ridiculous comment! On a guys retirement… do love an armchair coach! #FOS

I
Ian 21 days ago

One of the worst players to wear an English and British Lions shirt ever

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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