Harlequins prop Mark Lambert has announced his retirement from playing just weeks after he made headlines in his role as Rugby Players Association (RPA) chairman, outlining the union’s dissatisfaction that the temporary 25 per cent player wage cuts were being made at clubs across the Gallagher Premiership.
The one-club tighthead is stepping away at the age of 35 after a career in which he first played for Harlequins in 2002 and made his 250th appearance earlier this year during the home victory over league leaders Exeter Chiefs.
Lambert will continue his role as RPA chairman and as an ambassador for the Harlequins Foundation. He said: “I played my first game in a Quins shirt in 2002. I’ve had a picture of that moment on my wall for years. I’ve worn the shirt hundreds of times and every time, even the games on a Monday night that I didn’t want to play, when I pulled it on I looked at the badge and realised it was a privilege.
“I want to thank the supporters. You have always been passionate, kind and friendly to me. I hope I have been the same in return. I want to thank my friends and family for all your love and support. My wonderful wife, children, sister, and aunt of course, but mainly my mum and dad.
“You have been on every step of this journey with me and I will forever be grateful for that. Finally, I want to thank my teammates over the years. They are the reason I have played for so long. I have a lifetime of memories on and off the field.”
“Some clubs are trying to entice or crowbar players into signing longer contracts with 25% of their salary not counting in next season’s cap”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 10, 2020
Quins boss Paul Gustard added: “On behalf of all the support staff at the club we would all like to thank Mark for his immense contribution. He has been a true club man who has given his all on and off the field.
“His presence will leave a hole in the group that will leave not only an emotional space to be filled but also quite a sizeable physical one. I’m delighted he managed to get to that magical 250 appearances, which puts him in a group of very special players at this great club.
“For such a big man he had a big engine and probably an underrated ball-playing ability. He was a bright and articulate player who understood the game innately and contributed to debate and discussion on any aspect of the game, not solely his specialist area upfront.
“He can rightly look back on his career with great fondness and memories and be proud of what he achieved.
Known as ‘The Chairman’, Lambert played a significant part in the club’s three successive silverware-lifting campaigns, claiming the 2010/11 Amlin Challenge Cup, 2011/12 Aviva Premiership and 2012/13 LV Cup titles.
No love lost between the RPA and the Premiership clubs as heated row takes turn for worse https://t.co/93lj8jt8oY
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 12, 2020
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