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Former England fly half calls time on distinguished career

By Paul Smith
Jonny Wilkinson and Toby Flood (Getty)

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Three-time Premiership winner and 2007 Rugby World Cup finalist Toby Flood has announced his retirement from professional rugby.

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The 36-year-old, who enjoyed an 18-year career, will remain at the Newcastle Falcons as kicking and skills coach while simultaneously studying for a Masters degree in business at Cambridge University where he hopes to continue playing some rugby.

Flood won three Premiership titles while making 119 appearances for Leicester Tigers. He also earned 60 England caps and enjoyed three seasons with French giants Toulouse.

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“Dean Richards and I discussed the idea a little bit towards the end of last season,” he said.

“As time went on, the way my body was and the fact I was going away to university for parts of the year – it just seemed to make sense,” said Flood, who played 141 times during his two spells with the Falcons.

“A professional rugby career just flies by, and it’s mad to think this was going to be my 18th pre-season. I know a lot of people who haven’t been anywhere near that lucky, and I’m incredibly grateful to have had such a long stint.

“There’s a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from every stop on that journey, and too many people to thank. The good wins are the ones that create the best memories and the bad losses are the ones that tend to stick in your mind more – but it was fun while it lasted.”

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Flood is already working as kicking and skills coach at Kingston Park, a role which he is relishing.

“It’s still good to be around the boys and nice to have that transfer within the club,” he said.

“It all happened quite quickly in the end and I was still keen to play, but the more I thought about it and chatted it through with Dean, it just became more and more obvious that this was the best solution.

“We’ve got a load of good young players coming through at the Falcons, and if I can help facilitate them as a coach then I think that’s a positive result.

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“I’m enjoying getting into the coaching side of things. You come into it with lots of ideas, and I’m lucky enough to be working with some really experienced coaches who know what they’re doing.

“Dave Walder as head coach and Mark Laycock on the skills side are both guys who are doing a really fantastic job, and to be able to work with people of that ability is great for me.

“I’m hoping to add value for the players by working them pretty hard on their kicking technique, and with what I’ve experienced during my career I believe I can do that.”

“I’ve still got the university stuff going on in the background and will play a few games for Cambridge University depending on how the body is. I think that’s quite a nice way to finish up as a player along with my studies and my coaching.”

Newcastle’s director of rugby Richards said: “Toby can look back with great pride on an outstanding playing career for club and country.

“He has been in the very top bracket of English fly-halves for well over a decade, and will now add enormous value to us from a coaching perspective.

“He’s a very intelligent guy who understands the game incredibly well, so it’s fantastic news that he will remain at the club and be part of the exciting future that we’re all working towards.”

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Former England fly half calls time on distinguished career

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