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Pain drives Szarzewski into retirement

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'Rugby hurts and the accumulation of wounds tells me that I have to stop,' says a pained Szarzewski

Newly-retired Dimitri Szarzewski has given a sobering insight into the punishment his body has taken during a lengthy playing career he abruptly brought to an end in recent weeks.

The 36-year-old, who was capped 83 times by France, has told rugbyrama.fr that the pain he was suffering had become too much and it was time to get out and move into a different role at Racing 92 (he will work next season with the club’s academy).

“It will not have escaped anyone, I have not been spared from injury in recent years,” he said. “Today, my body tells me stop. Rugby, it hurts and the accumulation of wounds tells me that I have to stop.

“I had the opportunity to do some extra months but rugby causes me unbearable pain and it’s time to stop. It’s been a few weeks since I made my decision. I announced it to my team-mates during the training near Perpignan (on May 18).

“I tried to re-train on Tuesday, but in the end I had neck pain and Achilles tendon pain. At that point, you have to know how to listen to your body.

“Preparing for it, it’s a difficult step. I have always known rugby, it is part of my life. It’s even the most important thing for me with my family. I have been a professional since I was 18 and I only knew that.

“This is not trivial. Having discussed with other players who have stopped their career, it is a very difficult passage. It takes time,” he said before going on to list the major injuries he suffered.

“I had seven surgeries: the right orbital, the left shoulder, the left Achilles tendon, the right ankle, the cervical, the left bicep and the right shoulder. That makes a lot!

“My body is suffering and I’m no longer in possession of all my means to continue. Even trying, even with the best of intentions, is too difficult.

“Even if I could continue a few more months, with my captain status it’s hard to give advice, to speak and not to set an example on the ground.

“This is not my conception of rugby. When you are a player, it is to be on the field and accompany your friends. This is no longer the case… I spend the majority of my time on the medical table and it is no longer possible.”

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'Rugby hurts and the accumulation of wounds tells me that I have to stop,' says a pained Szarzewski