Scarlets wing Tom James has announced his retirement from professional rugby, bringing to an end a career spanning 14 seasons. The ex-Wales international headed west to join the Scarlets for the start of the 2019/20 campaign and he featured twice in the Guinness PRO14, playing against Glasgow and Edinburgh last October.
“With a lot of time to think, I’ve made a decision to retire from professional rugby,” said James, who won the last of his twelve Wales caps in 2016 having debuted in 2007. “I have loved the opportunity that the Scarlets have given me this season. It’s been an awesome experience meeting new players, coaches and staff who will be friends for life.
“Looking back, I have some wonderful memories over the last 14 years; from signing my first contract at Cardiff Blues, running out onto Twickenham to make my Wales debut against England in 2007 and the couple of seasons I had with Exeter Chiefs.
“I’ve had unbelievable experiences in so many countries and that is all down to rugby. I have been fortunate to have been coached by the best coaches and have played with some of the best players in the world, including my idol Gareth Thomas (Alfie).”
James, 33, took a break from the professional game at the end of 2017 and has since talked openly about his battle with depression. He returned to rugby in 2018/19, making a lone appearance for the Blues and featuring for Merthyr, Pontypridd and Cardiff in the Welsh Premiership before joining the Scarlets. He played 163 games for Cardiff Blues and was their all-time top try scorer with 60 tries. He also enjoyed two years with Exeter Chiefs in the English Premiership.
Scarlets boss Brad Mooar said: “TJ has been awesome. Unfortunately, he picked up a couple of knocks back to back so from a playing point of view he didn’t get as many opportunities as he would have hoped for. However, that never lessened his spirit or drive.
“An outstanding professional on and off the field, as a senior pro and class man, the value he has brought with his experience, presence and bubbliness has been superb. I’m thrilled for TJ that he has had this positive experience at the Scarlets and is now able to make this decision on his own terms.”
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