December 10, 2008
London Wasps and England back, Josh Lewsey, is today announcing his retirement from England rugby, with immediate effect.
Lewsey with 55 caps, 110 points and two World Cups to his name, has today made the decision to focus his attentions solely on the exploits of his club, Wasps, withdrawing himself from Martin Johnson's 2008/09 EPS squad.
Following an illustrious career with his country, Lewsey who was recalled to Johnson's England EPS squad ahead of the recent Investec Challenge test series, today said;
"It is with a huge fondness for the game that I love, and after consultation with Martin Johnson the England Team Manager, I have decided to retire from representing my country on the rugby field.
"I spoke with Martin on the phone earlier this week and as he didn't consider me to be an integral part of his immediate team moving forward, I have decided that I would be better served committing myself entirely to my club, London Wasps.
"After 55 caps, many training sessions and a vast amount of laughter I'd like to thank all the coaches, medics and especially the players that have made my England career so memorable over the past ten years. Playing, but more importantly winning, for your country is the most special feeling one can achieve. My last game for England was the semi-final of the Rugby World Cup in Paris last year and, although I would have liked to have contributed since, scoring the game's only try was in hindsight a fitting moment to wear a national jersey for the last time.
"It is my belief that last year's Guinness Premiership title was not won during the play off period at the end of the season, but during the RBS 6 Nations in which we did not lose a game and thus put ourselves into a position in the league from which we could launch a title bid. As such, with so many of our players already away on international duty, being away with the national squad from Sunday to Wednesday each week has been enormously disruptive on the club's and my own individual preparation. I feel therefore that I can have a more positive influence at Wasps throughout this important time if I am consistently here and have made the decision to focus my efforts solely on the clubs campaigns.
"On a personal note, over the past two seasons, though not being selected internationally, my club coaches have been very happy with my form and attitude. It is a very exciting time for Wasps and while many onlookers may have written us off, our challenge is to improve on our poor start to the season, building on recent wins to generate momentum and push to challenge for yet more silverware. It is the competitive nature and self belief of the characters at this club that have earned such success and how fitting to touch on this in a week that we say farewell to a great Wasps lady, Eileen Dallaglio, who epitomised this so much.
"Lastly, though having played in 2005, it is still a huge goal of mine to be part of a winning British Lions tour. Therefore, my decision is also made in that I believe performing well in a successful club team week in and week out gives me the best chance possible of being selected for the next year's Lions Tour. "
Showing his support for Lewsey's decision and crediting his calibre as an international back, London Wasps Director of Rugby Ian McGeechan said on the news; "Josh has been an outstanding player for England and is probably one of the most successful backs in English rugby for his achievements both with club and country. A World Cup winner, his achievements on the international stage have provided him with an illustrious career and a wealth of experience which brings a great deal to the club.
He added; "As a club we are delighted that Josh is able to focus his attentions solely on Wasps campaign. It is very important that we have a good focus, as we did last year, particularly when the internationals are away and to have that added experience, knowing that he is going to be here throughout the season is a bonus for us. He is one of the players who helps to deliver the kind of rugby we want to play, setting the right example, and his permanent presence will be of great benefit to the squad."
Also crediting Lewsey for his achievements, England Team Manager, Martin Johnson added; "Josh has spoken to me about his decision and while I'm disappointed I fully understand the reasons behind his decision to retire from international rugby and on behalf of the England squad I'd like to wish him every success with his continuing career with London Wasps.
"I know from first hand experience what an asset Josh was to England over an international career that spanned ten years, over 50 caps and two RWC's including the RWC 2003 final and it was a pleasure to play alongside him. "
President of the RFU, Brian Williams said today "I first met Josh when he was an England Colt and I was Chairman of the Colts panel. He was clearly a very good player and he has gone on to have an excellent career with England and London Wasps. Josh has always been good company and I admire his on-going support for young players at all levels of the sport to help them improve their game. I'd like to wish Josh all the very best for the remainder of his career."
England's revised 32 man EPS Senior squad will be announced on Wednesday, January 14 2009. Further details will follow in due course.