Tom Croft forced to retire on medical grounds

Leicester forward Tom Croft has retired at the age of 32
Leicester forward Tom Croft has retired at the age of 32

England and British and Irish Lions international Tom Croft has announced his retirement from professional rugby with immediate effect on medical grounds.

The 32-year-old's retirement comes after a consultation with a specialist following his latest neck injury.

Croft has racked up 173 appearances for Leicester Tigers since his professional rugby debut in 2005 and has been part of the time that clinched the Premiership title four times. He has also scored 135 points for the Welford Road unit, scoring 27 tries in it.

"I've played professional rugby at Leicester for 12 years and in that time I've enjoyed every second of it," said Croft.

"I've played alongside and against some incredible players and made many lifelong friends in the game.

"Unfortunately, I have also suffered some reasonably significant injuries and now, after seeking advice on a neck injury, I have to announce my retirement as a player."

Croft made his England debut in 2005, making 40 Test appearances for the red rose team, with his last appearance coming in March 2015. He was also part of the Lions squad in the 2019 and 2013 tours, featuring in five games and scoring two tries in it.

"Leaving the game has been a massive decision for me, it is all I've known since leaving school," he added.

"But with the issues I've had fitness-wise over the last few years and with my wife and two young kids at home it's the right time to hang the boots up and move on to the next chapter."

Leicester chief executive Simon Cohen, formerly the club's head of rugby operations, paid tribute to the player.

"Crofty displayed a unique talent as one of the quickest forwards in the game," he said.

"His impact when he first came into senior rugby, then when he got into the England team and in his debut tour for the Lions in 2009 said everything about an exceptional talent.

"He also showed his strength of will and determination in returning from a serious injury to play again at the highest level and deserves his place among the very best produced by the Tigers in its long history."