Scotland and Edinburgh prop WP Nel to retire at end of season

WP Nel played his 200th game for Edinburgh last week
WP Nel played his 200th game for Edinburgh last week

Scotland and Edinburgh prop WP Nel has announced that he will be retiring from professional rugby at the end of the ongoing season.

Born in Loeriesfontein, Nel started his professional rugby career with Western Province in 2008 and moved to Cheetahs in 2009. He moved to Scotland in 2012 when he made his Edinburgh debut. He recently played his 200th game for the club last week.

“To have the opportunity to play for Scotland is something I’m incredibly proud of. The memories in the jersey are unbelievable," said Nel in a statement released by the Scottish Rugby.

“When you stand there, singing the anthem, it’s a moment to be proud of, to be part of a team that will represent Scotland.

“My family was the forefront of everything. To have them in the stands, it makes you stronger, it lifts you, you want to perform for them, so it’s always been brilliant to have them there.”

Edinburgh head coach Sean Everitt said he is still open to options of Nel agreeing to a short-term contract.

“It looks like it could be his swan song. That hasn’t been cast in stone, but we’ve got to be proactive in how we look for our players. And if there are tightheads available we’ll certainly have a chat with them, because we want to have the strongest available squad next year.

“He’s not retiring with immediate effect. He’s been talking about retirement but he definitely won’t be retiring with immediate effect. He enjoys the game of rugby, but he knows time is drawing near.

“He’s still getting around the field and playing as well as he has when he was 25. I’m sure he doesn’t feel that way on a Sunday but there’s never a Monday he shirks training. He trains every Monday and every Tuesday and every Thursday."

Nel made his Scotland debut in 2015 and has 61 Test caps to his name. Head coach Gregor Townsend paid tribute to Nel and his contribution to the game.

"He was a joy to coach as every time he took to the training pitch he gave it his all, no matter how much his body was giving him issues," he added.

"WP will rank amongst the best props to play for Scotland, highly respected from coaches and players alike - and he also has a brilliant sense of humour.

"We'll miss his smile, his love of the scrum and some very skilful moments that often lit up our training sessions.

"We wish him all the best for the rest of the season and in his retirement."