Stevens retires from Test rugby
August 9, 2012
Matt Stevens has called time on his England career © Getty Images
Saracens tight-head Matt Stevens has announced his retirement from international rugby in a decision that brings an end to his 44-Test cap career.
Stevens has taken in two World Cups with England and was recently included in the EPS for the remainder of 2012. But with a young family, Stevens has opted to step away from the international scene but will continue playing for Aviva Premiership side Saracens.
He said: "This is one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make. Playing for England has been the ultimate honour and I have been very privileged and proud to wear the white shirt and play with some great players.
"I believe England under Stuart, Graham [Rowntree] and Andy [Farrell] are heading in the right direction towards 2015 and I remain a huge supporter of what they are doing. But I have a young family and, conscious that I would not be able to commit to the World Cup in three years, I have decided that the time is right to call it a day and to focus on my rugby at Saracens."
The South African-born tight-head made his debut for England back in 2004 while at Bath and played in the 2007 World Cup where he also turned out in the final against South Africa. But when in January 2009 he was hit with a two-year ban from the sport due to a failed drugs Test, it was doubtful to whether the prop would ever hit the same heights that saw him mooted as a British & Irish Lions contender for the 2009 tour.
But after impressing for Saracens on his return to competitive rugby in 2011, Stevens forced his way into the Churchill Cup team for the Saxons and went on to play a key role for England in the World Cup the same year where he made four appearances.
Under new boss Stuart Lancaster he continued to turn out for the national side and played in all five of their matches during the 2012 Six Nations with all of his appearances coming from the bench. Lancaster will now turn to a new tight-head to fill Stevens' void, with Sale prop Henry Thomas one option, and the England coach has praised the 29-year-old.
"On behalf of England rugby I want to thank Matt for his contribution over the years," Lancaster said. "He should look back on his international career with pride. I am sure he will continue to be successful with Saracens and beyond."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.