Ross Rennie announces immediate retirement from professional rugby

Bristol and Scotland flanker calls time on rugby career at age of 28 after failing to recover from a neck injury

Bristol Rugby flanker Ross Rennie has announced his retirement from the game with immediate effect.

The 28-year-old Scotland international sustained a neck injury, which led to his decision today to call time on his career.

I feel very fortunate that the sport has given me the opportunity to travel the world, meet new people and represent my country – something that I’m immensely proud of.

Ross Rennie

Rennie’s last appearance came in Bristol’s 59-14 win over Moseley in the British and Irish Cup back in October.

His club advised at the beginning of December that he would seek consultation with a specialist for a neural issue, with no return to play date given.

Despite the nature of the injury, there had been little indication from the club that it was career-ending, until today’s surprise announcement.

“I feel very privileged to have been a professional rugby player and will take away some great memories from playing the game,” Rennie said.

“Obviously it’s disappointing to stop playing the game that I love.

“However, I feel very fortunate that the sport has given me the opportunity to travel the world, meet new people and represent my country – something that I’m immensely proud of.

“I would like to thank everybody who has had an influence during my career: players, fans, strength and conditioning coaches, rugby coaches, and all the medical staff who have been brilliant.

“Lastly, I would like to thank my family for being incredibly supportive throughout my time playing rugby.”

A former Edinburgh Academy and Stewart’s Melville FP player, Rennie made 91 appearances in nine seasons for Edinburgh Rugby after making his debut in 2006 as an apprentice.

Ross has been a fantastic player for Scotland over the years so it’s very disappointing for him and us that he has been forced into early retirement.

Vern Cotter

After representing Scotland at age-grade level and in the Sevens team, he made his senior international debut against Ireland in a 34–13 defeat at Croke Park in February 2008, the same season he was voted Edinburgh’s player of the season.

But a succession of injuries at the wrong time halted his progress for the national team and his home debut finally arrived in 2010 as he came off the bench for the last 15 minutes of Scotland’s 49-3 thrashing by the All Blacks.

His first start in a Dark Blues shirt came the following summer, in a 10-6 win over Ireland in Edinburgh, with his performances earning him a place in Andy Robinson’s Scotland squad for the 2011 Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, before a stellar 2012 saw him become a pivotal part of the back row as he notched up 20 caps when injury again struck in what would be his final outing for Scotland in a 51-22 defeat to the All Blacks in November 2012; this time a damaged shoulder.

With opportunities limited at BT Murrayfield under new Edinburgh head coach Alan Solomons, a loan move to Aviva Prmeiership hopefuls Bristol in 2014 saw him link up with Robinson, now director of rugby at the ambitious club.

I’ve worked with Ross from a young age and, at his peak, he was one of the best openside flankers in the Northern Hemisphere – a world class performer.

Andy Robinson

Despite being kept on the radar for the national team, Rennie’s injury nightmares continued to thwart future call-ups, including last summer as he was injured for Bristol in helping them make the Greene King IPA Championship final, which they subsequently lost to London Welsh.

Rennie made his move to Bristol permanent in the summer, ultimately scoring seven tries in just 13 appearances for the West Country club before his latest injury, which would prove one too many.

Robinson hailed Rennie as one of the best in his position, who can be proud of his achievements despite leaving the sport earlier than expected.

“We’re sad to see Ross’ career cut short by injury because he has been an influential player for us over the past 12 months,” Robinson said.

“I’ve worked with Ross from a young age and, at his peak, he was one of the best openside flankers in the northern hemisphere – a world class performer.

“Unfortunately, injuries have hampered Ross’ progress, but his attitude and willingness to learn has not been dampened.

“He can leave the sport proud of his international achievements and with some great memories.”

Scotland head coach Vern Cotter also paid tribute to Rennie for his contribution to Scottish rugby during his time with Edinburgh and Scotland.

“Ross has been a fantastic player for Scotland over the years so it’s very disappointing for him and us that he has been forced into early retirement,” Cotter said.

“On behalf of the national team and Scottish Rugby we wish him all the very best as he takes on the next chapter of his life.”

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