Harlequins and England back row Jack Clifford has retired from playing with immediate effect following two major shoulder surgeries after a dislocation when playing his 100th game for the London club.
The 27-year-old, who impressed as a young flanker when leading the England U20s to a 2013 Junior World Championship, won ten senior Test caps, including two on the 2016 sweep away to Australia. His retirement comes after a 14-year association with Harlequins, whom he first linked up with as a 13-year-old.
Clifford said: “I’m absolutely gutted to be have to call time on my career at a relatively early stage. I have been at Quins since I was 13 years old and made so many good friends here.
“It has been an absolute pleasure training and playing with the lads each week and I will miss this environment greatly. I feel proud to have reached 100 appearances for Quins and it is ironic that the injury was sustained in my 100th game!”
Clifford’s senior career began in November 2012 when he made his debut as a replacement in an Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Northampton Saints. He also captained England at U18 and U20 level, going on to play for England in the sevens world series in 2014 before graduating to a senior Test debut in 2016.
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I am truly gutted to be writing this, but unfortunately I have been forced to retire from rugby – my last injury has not healed well enough for me to continue playing. Rugby is a game I love – I’ve had some amazing highs, made great memories and best friends. I’ve also had a few lows, and owe a lot to the people closest to me who helped me and kept me going. I love that I’ve only ever been at Quins, and it is my Club. I really look forward to coming back to watch, and wish the team the best in the future. I also want to thank all the Quins staff and fans for sticking by me too, you’ve been brilliant support. Much love and thanks for everything.
Harlequins boss Paul Gustard said: “It is with sadness that Jack has been forced to retire from the game prematurely after another serious injury. I have been a huge fan of Jack from my days as an opposition coach and was delighted to be part of an England staff who awarded him his first of ten England caps.
“He was a player who had the ability to change a game with his explosive pace and offloading skills which, allied to his high work rate, meant he was an important player for us last season when he was a mainstay of the side who finished fifth.
“He is first and foremost a great human being and I have enjoyed watching him grow as a person and I continually applaud his courage and tenacity to fight back from each serious injury he endured.
“We had signed Jack on a long-term contract at the club as we believed he was a key part of what we are building, so it is disappointing for everyone that we are unable to see his talents on the field once more.”
'If you had said to me in that moment I would play until I was 35 I would have called you an idiot'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 26, 2020
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