Newcastle Falcons’ former England lock Mouritz Botha has been forced to call time on his rugby career at the age of 35.
A Premiership title winner with Saracens back in 2011, Botha has made the decision on medical advice after failing to recover from concussion suffered during the 2016-17 season.
Capped 10 times by England and playing Super Rugby for the Sharks in his native South Africa, the 6 foot 5 forward admitted it was a sad day but was able to look back on a successful playing career.
He said: “Although many players have mixed emotions when they call time on their playing days, I only have one overriding feeling – that I was truly blessed to have had enjoyed my time as a rugby player as much as I have done.
“I am extremely proud to have been able to represent England, an honour that I will always cherish, and to have won the Premiership with Saracens. Most importantly I have made some fantastic memories and friends for life at all the clubs I have played for along the way and I’ll always be indebted to the many people who helped me enjoy such a fantastic journey.
“I was very lucky to learn from some amazing coaches who turned me from a semi-professional into an England international. It is for this reason I’m am now pursuing a career in coaching. I want to give players the same experience that I had.”
Botha played 142 games during his six seasons at Saracens, joining the Falcons in the summer of 2015 and going on to make 14 Aviva Premiership appearances for the Kingston Park club.
Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It is sad when any player is forced to retire in this manner, but Mo can look back on a great career which has seen him winning the Premiership title and playing international rugby for England.
“We wish him all the best for the next chapter of his life and thank him for all of his efforts during his time with us in Newcastle.”