Five players who retired from rugby in their twenties
Rugby Union magazine takes a look at five players who retired at the peak of their careers, and the paths they followed thereafter.
Pat Lambie – 28
Springbok and Sharks opening half Pat Lambie is a player who was sadly forced into early retirement after suffering a series of concussions. The mercurial hub has played 56 times for the Springboks and won two Currie Cup titles with the Sharks. After his retirement, however, Lambie spent some time working as a kicking consultant for the Sharks.
Barry john – 27
Few players can say that they have retired on their own terms and at the peak of their careers. Legendary Welsh opening half Barry John, however, can be counted among those few. The kingpin is revered in Wales where he was nicknamed “The King” during his brief playing career. John moved away from gambling to become a newspaper columnist and professional journalist.
Christian Wade – 27
England driver Christian Wade retired from rugby at the age of 27 in order to change careers to pursue a future in the NFL. The former Wasps winger holds the Premiership record for most tries in a game (six) and won an England selection. In 2018, Wade joined the Buffalo Bills as a running back and remains with the team.
Alex Corbisiero – 27
Former loose pillar Alex Corbisiero played rugby for England U19 and U20, and ultimately won 31 caps for the senior national team. He was part of the Northampton Saints squad that won the Premiership in 2014. In 2016, while still under contract with the Saints, Corbisiero decided to take a sabbatical from rugby. He has now admitted that he was unlikely to return in the game and took the job of scrum coach for the LA Giltinis in the MLR.
Sam Warburton – 29
Wales and B&I Lions captain Sam Warburton retired from rugby at the height of his powers at just 29. The flank had enjoyed an extremely injury-prone career and made the difficult decision to step away from rugby in 2018 after failing to recover from back and neck surgery. Warburton remained involved in rugby as a commentator, expert and coach.