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'I'm incredibly sad': Theo Brophy-Clews has retired from playing with immediate effect at the age of only 24

By Liam Heagney

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London Irish midfielder Theo Brophy-Clews has announced his immediate retirement from professional rugby on medical grounds at just the age of 24. The young back had put together a run of eleven appearances between December and April but he lasted just a couple of minutes of his club’s Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat last month at Bath due to concussion.

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Having made his debut in 2015/16, he made a total of 63 appearances and scored in excess of 110 points before now putting his health first and calling it quits in an open letter published on the London Irish website.  

Brophy-Clews wrote on the Irish website: “It is with a heavy heart that I write to announce my retirement from professional rugby due to concussion. After receiving advice from the medical staff at London Irish and the Complex Concussion Clinic, it’s clear to me that I cannot continue to play as I would be putting both my short-term and my long-term health at risk.

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“Rugby is an incredibly special sport and it has been a dream come true to play it professionally. The memories I have made, the people I have met and the challenges I have had to go through have made my career incredibly fulfilling and special. Rugby has taught me so much and, most importantly, how to be a decent person and to enjoy the ride, no matter how tough it gets.

“There is obviously a lot of emotion involved in a decision like this. First and foremost, I recognise that my health is the most important thing to consider. I have to accept that I can no longer put my body and my head through the physical challenges required to be a top-level player.

“Secondly, I’m hugely grateful for the time I have had in the game, the people I have shared the pitch with and being involved in the special community we have in English rugby. Lastly, I’m incredibly sad. While I appreciate that there is so much more to live for and more important issues in the world, I’m really going to miss it. The emotions you go through, the bonds and special memories you make with the people around you, let alone playing the game you love for a living, will all be incredibly tough to leave behind.

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“There are too many people to thank here but know if you have ever messaged me, watched a game or played with me, I’m thankful for you and your support. It hit me the other day that there are not many other jobs that you get to earn a living while having your family name on your back. 

“I have loved representing my whole family every time I ran out onto the pitch. My mum, dad, big sister and my girlfriend Melanie have made me who I am and have supported me unwaveringly throughout my life and career. I love them more than anything.

“To my teammates, coaches and support staff at school, club, county and England age-grade, thank you. Growing up playing rugby was incredibly fun and rewarding and there are so many people who shaped my career at a young age. There are so many people who have improved my life for the better at Newbury RFC, Berkshire, Abingdon School and the national age-grade programme. I will always look back at that time during my development as a rugby player with huge happiness and gratitude.

“To everyone at London Irish, I have wanted to represent this club since I was a kid and playing over 50 first-team games has been one of my proudest achievements,” continued Brophy-Clews. I have been part of some massive ups and downs for the club and many brilliant environments, so thanks to all the boys, staff, coaches, and supporters for making my time here so special. 

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“A special thank you to the two people at the club who had the bravery to tell me what is important in life. It can’t have been easy, but I really appreciate it. Finally, to the London Irish supporters and rugby enthusiasts in general – thank you for supporting us, especially when it hasn’t been easy. You are the reason we get to play rugby for a living and thank you for allowing us to live our dreams.

“If you have got this far, I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life knowing I’ve been lucky enough to live my dream.”

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'I'm incredibly sad': Theo Brophy-Clews has retired from playing with immediate effect at the age of only 24

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