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.
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.”
Ansbro thanked all those on and off the field at London Irish and Northampton for their support both before and after his injury.
He added: “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.
“I’d especially like to thank James Peckitt (London Irish physiotherapist) and Doctor James Robson for helping me through a difficult rehabilitation process.
“Finally, thank you to my family, friends and agent for their continuing support and positive influence.”
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. 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 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. Good luck Joe.”