Guinness Premiership
Lewsey to swap rugby for Everest
April 5, 2009
Wasps centre Josh Lewsey looks to break the tackle of Mark Easter, Wasps v Northampton, Guinness Premiership, Adams Park, Wycombe, England, February 22, 2009
Josh Lewsey is set to retire at the end of the season © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Josh Lewsey
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Teams: England | Wasps

England World Cup-winning back Josh Lewsey will retire from all rugby at the end of the season in order to scale Mount Everest, a long standing personal ambition.

The Wasps star, who won 55 caps for England and three for the British and Irish Lions in 2005, retired from international rugby in December 2008 and has now decided to hang up his boots for good. He will attempt to scale Everest next year alongside Major Keith Reesby, a friend from his years in the British Army, before taking up a career as a management consultant with professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Lewsey's announcement comes as Wasps prepare for their final three games of the season, although Lewsey still has "a burning desire" to be included in the squad for the upcoming Lions tour to South Africa.

An always driven presence on the rugby field, Lewsey will now attack Everest after training on mountains in Scotland before graduating to a 7,000 metre peak in the Himalayas. He has some previous experience of climbing however, ascending to the base camp of K2 in 2006.

"It is the personal challenge and the stimulus of doing something new," he told The Sunday Times of his next venture. "I am 32 and I suppose I could have gone on for a few more years. But Vanessa [his wife] is finishing her doctorate, you have to think about real life and responsibilities, the possibility of a family."

Lewsey will leave Wasps at one of their lowest ebbs in the professional era, with Guinness Premiership play-off qualification an impossibility and their Heineken Cup ambition long since laid to rest. Since joining Wasps Lewsey has won four Premiership titles, two English cups, the European Challenge Cup and two Heineken Cups, and believes that leaving the squad on a low is far more difficult than leaving on a high.

"It is far, far more difficult to leave the lads after a disappointing season. One day, I may be back. I can count the number of great coaches I worked with on the fingers of one hand."

One of those coaches is of course his current Wasps boss Ian McGeechan, who also wields the power in terms of his Lions ambitions.

"Josh has got planned what he wants to do and we wish him well," McGeechan said after Sunday's 12-6 victory over Newcastle. "There aren't many English backs who will go home with the silverware he's collected, with World Cups, 10 trophies with Wasps and a Lions tour. He's been hugely significant in English rugby and the same at the club.

"I've told him he's got to be playing well first and foremost [to get on the Lions tour]. I have to look at all the pluses in the squad we want, the mix and how that fits in so there's a bit of sorting still to be done in that respect."

Wasps will be losing one of their most experienced and influential players, and have not ruled out a return for Lewsey in a coaching capacity.

"Whether he pursues coaching in the future, his achievements on the field and contribution to the club and international game will not be forgotten," said a club statement. "Lewsey will be sorely missed by all those who follow Wasps and hopefully it will be on the back of three strong performances for his club."


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