Former England winger James Simpson-Daniel coming to terms with retirement

James Simpson-Daniel admits his retirement from professional rugby hasn’t sunk in ahead of new season

By Gareth Llewellyn

James Simpson-Daniel has admitted that his retirement from professional rugby hasn’t sunk in ahead of the Aviva Premiership’s opening weekend.

The 32-year-old former England winger was forced to miss much of last season after a horror ankle injury while playing for Gloucester against Newcastle Falcons in the LV=Cup at Kingsholm.

Despite his best efforts to return to fitness in time for the new season, Simpson-Daniel has been forced to concede defeat and call time on a career that saw him win 10 England caps and feature over 250 times for the Cherry and Whites.

I’ll take my time and consider my options but, whatever I do, Gloucester Rugby will always be a huge part of my life

James Simpson-Daniel

“When I was given the diagnosis by the specialist, they were obviously the last words I wanted to hear,” Simpson-Daniel said. “But I know that I’ve given it everything and I can’t praise the Gloucester Rugby medical staff highly enough.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet to be honest, but I’ve had a really good trot, I can’t have any complaints. It would have been nice to have won more trophies with Gloucester, but I’ve got so many fantastic memories from my time in the game.

“I’ve loved every minute of my time with the club: played and worked with so many great people, made so many friends and, of course, played my home games at the best home ground in club rugby, Kingsholm.

“That’s what I’ll miss the most. That roar as you exit the tunnel and run on to the pitch. The Gloucester supporters have always been fantastic to me and I’ll always be grateful.

“But it’s now time to start on a new chapter. I’ll take my time and consider my options but, whatever I do, Gloucester Rugby will always be a huge part of my life.”

Simpson-Daniel joined the Kingsholm club as a teenager from Sedbergh School—also the breeding ground for fellow internationals Phil Dowson, Will Greenwood and Will Carling—and scored an individual try on his debut against Rotherham in 2001 that he would repeat for club and country.

A stellar club career led to 118 tries, but his international career was plagued by injury.

Despite that, many rugby fans will have fond memories of his try for Sir Clive Woodward’s England against the Barbarians when he took on and beat Jonah Lomu on the outside to score in the corner, four days before his 20th birthday, and he will always be a legend at Gloucester—his only professional club.

“He was a unique talent. I played against him and, even though he was an opponent who could really hurt you on the pitch, he was a joy to watch,” said new Gloucester director of rugby David Humphreys.

“It’s a real blow for him and, personally, I’m disappointed that he’s had to retire before I had the opportunity to enjoy seeing him play as a colleague.

“But his influence on this Gloucester Rugby side will continue to be felt. He’s helped to develop and mentor the likes of Jonny May and Charlie Sharples—both international wingers in their own right— and he will have inspired countless others to play the game.

“On behalf of everyone at Gloucester Rugby, I’d like to thank him for everything he’s done for the club and wish him all the very best for the future.”

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