Wales’ record cap-holder Gethin Jenkins will retire from rugby after Cardiff Blues’ PRO14 clash with Zebre this weekend.
Prop Jenkins, 37, has been suffering with a chronic knee injury and the Blues announced via a statement Wednesday he will be unable to continue playing at a “sustained level.”
Jenkins is Wales’ current record appearance holder with 129 caps and has played five Tests for the British & Irish Lions. He was an integral part of Wales’ 2005 Six Nations Grand Slam-winning side and went on to win two further Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012, before captaining the side to victory over England in Cardiff to clinch the 2013 Championship.
He made 194 appearances in two stints with Welsh region Cardiff, winning two Challenge Cups and also captained the side between 2014 and 2017. Jenkins will now take up a coaching role with the Blues’ academy.
Jenkins, who also played for Pontypridd and Toulon, told the Blues’ official website: “I have been working hard rehabbing over the last three months and I was confident I was going to be back playing so it’s disappointing to be retiring after Sunday’s game against Zebre.
“It’s obviously a big decision but I’ve had a good innings, it’s time to finish and I’m looking forward to one more run out on the weekend and hopefully finishing on a high. The pain I have been experiencing from rugby, in my daily life, simply isn’t tolerable but it’s important to me that after all the work I have put in, I run out with my team one last time and finish on my own terms.
“I have so many memories from over the years and could stay here all day listing them but the biggest thing I will miss is that camaraderie with the boys, the buzz of running out and playing, and the feeling in the changing rooms after a win.
“I’m very proud of everything I have achieved in my career, particularly captaining the Blues in the previous three seasons. None of it would have been possible without my parents and the 2005 Grand Slam always stands out as Mum and Dad were both there supporting me.
“I’m very grateful to [Blues chairman] Peter Thomas, the entire club and its brilliant supporters for everything they have given me over the years, and also Gruff Rees and [head coach] John Mulvihill for making this transition from playing to coaching a smooth one.
“I am hanging up my boots with the club in a strong position and while missing last season’s European Challenge Cup was personally devastating, I was immensely proud of the culture, environment and legacy we have built.”
Chairman Thomas led the tributes, describing Jenkins as a “player of immense quality” and “brilliant leader.” Head coach Mulvihill branded Jenkins a “legend of Welsh rugby.”
Cardiff Blues face Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday Nov. 4.