Scotland international centre Joe Ansbro has announced his retirement from rugby today following the neck injury he sustained at the start of this season.
The 11-times-capped London Irish back suffered a C1 fracture in his club’s pre-season friendly with Munster in Cork last August.
He has worked diligently on his rehabilitation, both at his club and at the Spire Murrayfield Hospital in Edinburgh, under the direction of Scottish Rugby’s Head of Medical Services, James Robson, but has been advised to retire on medical grounds.
Scotland captain Kelly Brown said: “Joe has been a truly talented rugby player and an all-round good guy. I’m sure we’ll miss him but, equally, I’m delighted that he’ll be able to get on with normal life outside rugby.”
Ansbro, 27, scored a try on his last match for Scotland – the 17-16 victory over Samoa in Apia last summer – and dotted down on two other occasions, the wins against Ireland at Murrayfield in August 2011 and Romania in the Rugby World Cup at Invercargill in September 2011.
His debut for Scotland was an equally memorable occasion – the famous Murrayfield win against South Africa in 2010.
Ansbro said: “It’s with great sadness that I announce my retirement from professional rugby.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to play top-level rugby for both Northampton Saints and London Irish. To gain international recognition with Scotland has been an immense honour; victories over South Africa and Australia stand out.
“Playing this great game at the highest level is a privilege and I will always look back on my career with fond memories.”
“Thank you also to all the supporters, players, coaches and staff at Scottish Rugby for making the responsibility of representing Scotland such an enjoyable experience.”
(He probably won’t thank Al Strokosch for the headbutt sustained during victory celebrations over Oz – Ed.)
The Glasgow-born centre opted for the country of his birth when he accepted selection in the Scotland A team for the IRB Nations Cup tournament in Romania in June 2009. Scotland A won that tournament, with Joe making his debut as outside centre in the win against Uruguay.
He was educated at Gatehouse Primary School (Dumfries and Galloway) and Stonyhurst College (Lancashire), and he went on to take a natural sciences degree at Cambridge University. While living near Gatehouse-of-Fleet, he played youth rugby with Stewartry, the Castle Douglas club.
James Robson said: “Joe has been an absolute delight to work with over his three year senior international career. He is an extremely talented young man both on and off the pitch and though it is very sad that he will have to retire from rugby, I know, without a doubt that he will do well in whatever he does next. I wish him and his partner, Kylie the very best of luck in the future.”
Scotland Head North Before They Go South
Scotland will undertake a three-day training camp in Perthshire and the Highlands in preparation for their summer tour to South Africa.
The 31-man squad will visit the thriving Blairgowrie club – one of the winners of RBS Club of the Month this season – Grantown Grammar School, which has nurtured growing participation in the game in Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools’ competitions for both boys and girls; and a new community facility in Aviemore.
All of their training sessions will be open to the public, while they will also undertake a specialist coaching clinic for some of the most promising young Pathway players in the Highlands.
Full details of the schedule will be confirmed through the local clubs and schools – the camp takes place from Monday 27 to Wednesday 29 May, with the squad departing for their quadrangular tournament involving Samoa, South Africa and Italy, on Friday 31 May.
Warriors Set for Quins Friendly
Glasgow Warriors will play English Aviva Premiership giants Harlequins ahead of the new season.
The game will be played at the Twickenham Stoop in south west London on Saturday 24 August (kick-off 2.30pm).
The London-based side won the Premiership last season and finished third this season.
The Warriors have already announced details of a pre-season friendly against another Premiership side, Exeter Chiefs at Sandy Park on Saturday 31 August (kick-off 3pm).
Glasgow Warriors head coach Gregor Townsend said: “Harlequins are one of the top sides in England and only narrowly missed out on a place in the Premiership final, so it will be a good test for us ahead of the new season.
“Our pre-season preparation is crucial as we build-up to our first league game at the start of September and these two matches will give us some much needed game time to ensure we’re sharp and ready for the new campaign.”
Cairns to coach former club
Scotland centre Ben Cairns has been named defence and skills coach for former club, Currie.
The appointment will see him follow in the footsteps of Edinburgh Rugby hooker Steven Lawrie, who coaches city and RBS Premiership rivals, Heriot’s, former back-row Simon Cross – now head coach at Edinburgh Accies – and Currie head coach, Ally Donaldson, who’s time at stand-off straddled the amateur and professional eras.
Donaldson said: “Ben still has realistic ambitions to play the game at the highest level but this is a great opportunity for him to cut his teeth in coaching and see if it’s a career he’d like to pursue.
“He grew up playing for the club, and his brother Mark is captain so he’s never far away from Malleny Park.
“It’s good to formalise an arrangement with him and we look forward to bringing his experience and enthusiasm to the first team and across all ages at the club.”
As Edinburgh Rugby’s top try-scorer in Heineken Cup competition, Cairns had played over 100 games for the club when he ruptured his ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the summer of 2011.
He returned in December with six games for the club and a replacement appearance for Scotland A but was hit with a new injury setback three months later requiring a cartilage operation.
The 27-year-old continues to work with the club’s physios and strength and conditioning staff in a bid to return to match fitness but believes the time is right to broaden his horizons.
He said: “I’m really grateful for the chance offered by both Edinburgh Rugby and Currie to pursue my ambitions of playing and coaching at two great clubs.
“I still believe I have a lot offer on the pitch, but a professional playing career is a short one and it’s important we all prepare ourselves for life after rugby.”
Brown to Retire
After nine years, 62 international caps, two World Cups and three seasons leading her country, Susannah Clare Brown – aged 32 years and one day – is calling time on both her Scotland and club rugby career.
She said: “I made my decision in November 2012. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly but one I came to after careful consideration when I tore my hamstring. My body can no longer train at the level it takes to be an international player these days – age has most definitely caught up with me!”