Sam Warburton Opens Up About Decision To Retire In Must-See Interview

Harsh reality.

Sam Warburton’s sudden decision to retire from rugby at just 29-years-old last month pretty much shocked everyone.

The former Wales and Lions captain had been battling hard to recover sufficiently from neck and knee surgeries. His last game game as captain of the British & Irish Lions against New Zealand in the final Test in Eden Park – not a bad way to go out.

His decision to retire wasn’t taken lightly. Warburton was 100% focused and believed he was coming back. But he came home one day and realised his body just couldn’t get back to the level he wanted it at.

He also didn’t want to make a big deal about it, telling just his wife, agent and two teammates before the announcement was made public. Even then he left the country to avoid the noise.

“I didn’t want to make a big song and dance about it,” Warburton said on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight

“I came home from training one day and I knew I had to tell my wife what I was thinking. The six months prior to that I was adamant that I was coming back and I wanted to play for the Blues, World Cup.”

“I knew deep down that was it.”

“They said they’d announce it on the Wednesday at 12 o’clock. That was perfect because I had a family wedding and I was off to Italy at one o’clock.”

“Even at [airport] security – it had only been out for five or ten minutes – people were coming up to me offering congratulations or apologies. Then I’m on the big screen at Heathrow and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness’.”

As for the harsh reality of the retirement itself. Warburton says it didn’t really hit home until he had to clear out his slot in the Cardiff Blues changing room.

“I got the black bin liner, got my boots, the wet top and then you leave your slot and your name is still in the changing room,” Warburton said.

“At all clubs you have WhatsApp groups with the boys. So you say, ‘Boys, I’m obviously going to leave the WhatsApp group now’. I left the WhatsApp group and I haven’t got a hundred silly messages coming in a day from all the boys with the Blues.”

“People don’t think of that stuff. That’s the bit people don’t tell you about. You’ve been immersed with the boys for so long and then you’re out of that.”

The openside has since moved into full-time broadcasting as a host on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight. Life after rugby is no doubt tough, but we look forward to seeing more of his punditry.