Rugby Union: Last of active England World Cup winner Tindall retires

LONDON (AFP) - Mike Tindall, the last member of the England squad that won the 2003 World Cup still to be playing rugby union, announced his retirement from the sport on Tuesday, July 15, 2014.

The 35-year-old centre, who turned out 75 times for his country, wrote on his official Twitter feed: "After 17 years it's time to retire from rugby.

"I have been lucky to play with/against some great players, two great clubs and had some amazing times. Thank you to everyone who has supported me through my career!"

Tindall was pivotal to England's Grand Slam victory in 2003, but later found himself in hot water in a wretched 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

England's disappointing performance in 2011 led to both the exit of coach Martin Johnson, England's 2003 World Cup-winning captain, and the end of Tindall's international career after he was heavily criticised for a night out during the tournament.

Tindall, who married Queen Elizabeth II's granddaughter Zara Phillips in 2011, started his career with Bath in 1997 and spent eight seasons at the Rec before moving to their West Country rivals Gloucester.

He spent almost a decade at Gloucester and became the club's player-coach following the arrival of director of rugby Nigel Davies in 2012.

While he had not been offered a playing contract at the Cherry and Whites for next season, Tindall had the chance to become the club's full-time backs coach, but the sacking of Davies in May and subsequent appointment of Nick Walshe as backs and attack specialist left that proposal void.

Tindall, who is now set to work as a television pundit, added on "I could play two more years if I really wanted to but club rugby is a very special thing for me, it's what I love about the game.

"I had to ask myself if I wanted to go and play somewhere else.

"Can you get emotionally attached to another club? Because that is the pull of club rugby for me.

"It's a little bit daunting going into something where I am out of my comfort zone but at the same time it is exciting.

"You have to face the big bad world some time and now is the right time to do that." Tuesday's announcement came four days after back-up wing Iain Balshaw confirmed his retirement after failing to recover from a knee injury, leaving Tindall as the only member of the 2003 World Cup-winning squad still active after fly-half great Jonny Wilkinson, England's record points-scorer, called it a day following his European Cup/French Top 14 double with Toulon.

However, Tindall's retirement means the page has well and truly been turned on one of English rugby's most successful eras.

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