Former England centre Mathew Tait has retired from rugby union after failing to recover from an Achilles injury.
The 33-year-old, who spent the last eight years with Leicester Tigers, was the last member of England’s starting XV from the 2007 World Cup final defeat by South Africa still playing.
He began his career with Newcastle in 2004 before moving to Sale in 2008 and onto Welford Road three years later.
Tait’s final game was against former club Sale at the end of last season.
“It isn’t how I planned to finish up, this ongoing problem with my Achilles has caught up with me and, on the advice of people much more in the know than me, it’s the right time to call it quits,” Tait told the Leicester website.
Tait won 36 England caps between 2005 and 2010 and played 280 club matches, also winning the 2012 Premiership title and the 2017 Anglo-Welsh Cup with Leicester.
He is the third-youngest player to score a try in the Premiership, having crossed with his first touch of the ball on his debut for Newcastle against London Irish in May 2004.
“I’ve been so fortunate to achieve many things in the game and it’s hard to pinpoint one highlight, let alone a few, but obviously being able to win the Premiership with Tigers stands out, as well representing my country and, of course, playing in a World Cup Final,” he said.
“I also think being able to have played against and alongside my brother Alex is something I’ll always remember as being very special.
“I owe a lot to a lot of people who have made it possible for me to live out my dream and I thank every one of those people who have played a role from my school days, through Newcastle and Sale, England and, of course, here at Tigers.”
Tait ‘among the leading players of his generation’
Following Tait’s retirement, Toby Flood is the only player from England’s second World Cup final appearance still active, the Newcastle fly-half came on as a replacement for Mike Catt early in the second half of the 15-6 loss to South Africa.
Tait made his England debut against Wales in the 2005 Six Nations and scored his first try against the same opposition in a World Cup warm-up game two years later.
His last England cap came as a replacement against Australia in Perth in June 2010.
“Matt has been among the leading players of his generation since making his breakthrough as a teenager at Newcastle,” Leicester head coach Geordan Murphy said.
“In the past few seasons we have been able to use him at centre and full-back, and it says a lot for his knowledge and his quality as a player that he has been able to absorb the detail of different roles and has always been willing to play wherever he has been needed in the team.
“As a senior player, he has been influential here on and off the field and has given great service to the club.”