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Ten years ago today Gareth Thomas retired from rugby

Gareth Thomas celebrates after scoring the second Lions try during the match between the British and Irish Lions and Wellington at The Westpac Stadium on June 15, 2005 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Gareth Thomas announced his immediate retirement from all forms of rugby on this day in 2011.


The Wales dual-code international and former British and Irish Lions captain brought an abrupt halt to his playing career aged 37.

Thomas revealed he could no longer give the sport his all four days before he was due to make his debut in rugby league’s Four Nations series.

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“I have listened to and discussed this decision with many of my family and close friends,” he said at the time. “My mind has told me that the time to retire is now.

“If you can’t give 100 per cent to rugby then you can’t do it justice. This is a sad day but I know that my time has come to an end as a player. My passion for the amazing game will never end or leave me however.”

Thomas had been expected to join Wigan following the demise of Wrexham-based Super League club Crusaders, who he had joined following his switch from rugby union two years previously.

In December 2009, Thomas revealed he was gay and the following year topped the Pink List as the UK’s most influential person in the gay community.


On the field, Thomas – nicknamed ‘Alfie’ – is best remembered for the 100 rugby union caps he won for Wales.

Born in Sarn, Bridgend, he spent most of his career with Cardiff, although he won the Heineken Cup in 2005 during a stint with Toulouse.

Thomas made his Test debut against Japan in 1995 and became the first man to make a century of appearances for Wales.


He made three Test appearances on the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and was appointed captain for the second and third Tests following an injury to Brian O’Driscoll.

Thomas was 35 when he switched codes with Crusaders and became a dual-code international when he made his debut for Wales’ rugby league side against Italy in 2010.


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