Sale Sharks forward James Phillips announces retirement

James Phillips has played close to 300 professional rugby games since 2006
James Phillips has played close to 300 professional rugby games since 2006
©Steve Haag

Sale Sharks forward James Phillips has announced his retirement from professional rugby on medical grounds.

The decision follows after he failed to make a recovery from a fractured jaw that he sustained during Sale's pre-season fixture against Benetton Treviso in September last year.

The 34-year-old underwent a surgery to address the injury but suffered from headaches and dizziness in the weeks that followed eventually forcing him to quit his playing career.

“I’m absolutely gutted to be honest that my career has been cut short, but I’ve known for a little while that this was likely to be the end," he told the club's official website.

“I can’t remember too much about the incident in the Treviso game but I’ve watched it back since. I got my head in the wrong place in a tackle and took a knee to the jaw.

“After the operation, I thought I’d be back playing within four or five weeks but then I started getting headaches and feeling dizzy and groggy all the time. I had some scans and tests and it was clear that it was more serious than we thought at first.

“It’s hard to take but I’ve loved every minute of my time at Sale Sharks. The coaches, the players and the staff at the club have made me feel so welcome and the supporters have always been brilliant with me.

“The last few months have been really difficult for me but I’ve had fantastic support from the club, but more importantly from my wife and my two girls. I don’t know how I’d have got through it without them so I want to say a big thank you.”

Phillips started his professional rugby career with Bristol in 2006 and made over 100 appearances for them spread across two stints. He also featured for London Scottish, Exeter Chiefs and Bath Rugby before joining Sale Sharks ahead of the 2018/19 season.

Overall, Phillips had played close to 300 games in his career that spanned between 2006 and 2021.

Sale Sharks director of rugby Alex Sanderson paid tribute to Phillips and his contribution to the game.

“He’s not been able to train at all over the past few months but he’s still been down at Carrington regularly and you can see how popular he is with the players.

“He’s a converted northerner and I know that despite his playing career being cut short, he’s got so much still to give to the game as a coach.

“I genuinely hope that he’ll be one of those people who will be part of the Sharks family for life. We’ve loved working with him and wish him all the very best for the future.”