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Injury forces Xavier Rush to retire
ESPN Staff
July 11, 2012
Cardiff's Xavier Rush holds aloft the European Challenge Cup, Cardiff Blues v Toulon, European Challenge Cup, Stade Velodrome, Marseille, France, May 23, 2010
Xavier Rush helped the Blues to the European Challenge Cup in 2010 © Getty Images
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Teams: Cardiff Blues | Wales

The Cardiff Blues have confirmed that Xavier Rush has been forced to retire from injury but will take up a role as defence coach with the region.

Rush, who played at No.8, suffered an injury to his neck during the Heineken Cup quarter-final with Leinster back in April and has since been advised to retire from playing. He has played 16 seasons in professional rugby and joined Cardiff back in 2005 from the Auckland Blues.

He helped guide them to European Challenge Cup success in 2010 and then agreed a deal to sign with Ulster at the end of the 2009-10 season only to then change his mind. While Rush admits he will miss running out in front of the Blues' support, he is relishing the chance to take on his role under the new management at the region.

"I'm really looking forward to the new role and working under Phil Davies," Rush said. "He's an experienced coach in his own right and just in terms of the chats we've been having I'm sure I'm going to learn a lot."

"I look forward to working alongside him and the staff there already. Rugby has been a massive part of my life and I think I have a lot of experience within the game."

"Obviously coaching is a different skill-set and one that I will have to learn and learn quickly but I look forward to developing some youngsters and being part of a game that I dearly love. There's some good talent amongst the loose forwards in the Blues."

Speaking of Rush's retirement from rugby and his new role at the Blues, chairman Peter Thomas said: "Unquestionably back in 2005 when Xavier came on the radar we knew we would have very stiff competition to obtain his services.

"The record will show he has undoubtedly been the most outstanding overseas recruit we have ever had. He brought a level of professionalism, both on and off the pitch, which was of the highest standard possible.

"He was captain of the side for three years and he is major figure for all the academy and development players. Nobody trains harder than him and nobody's standards are higher than his and he has just been amazing player. He has the will to win.

"The very fact that there is a role that secures his involvement with the Blues for the next two seasons I think is fantastic. He has that Kiwi edge and has level two coaching and is currently going for level three and four. His support to Phil Davies and the boys will be unquestionable."

But while Rush joins the Blues, forwards coach Justin Burnell has left the region with immediate effect. He held the post of joint head coach with Gareth Baber last term and the Blues CEO Richard Holland has paid tribute to Burnell.

"Justin has been part of the Cardiff Blues set up for the last eight years progressing through the system to become Cardiff Blues' forward coach and most recently joint head coach," Holland said. "We would like to thank him for the commitment that he has shown over the years and we wish him the very best for the future."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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