London Welsh hooker, Andy Titterrell, has announced his retirement from rugby with immediate effect.
Titterrell, 33, who joined Welsh at the beginning of the 2013/14 season from Edinburgh Rugby, has been forced to retire on medical advice.
Of his decision to retire Titterrell said: “It is absolutely devastating that my career has ended as a player in these circumstances. It's utterly gut wrenching.
“I hope to move forward now and make the transition into a specialist skills and strength & conditioning coach so that I can pass my understanding and expertise onto other professional players within the game that I am so passionate about.
“I'd like to thank all those who have supported me over my playing career, especially my parents, my wife and Gareth Delve, for them I am truly grateful.”
The former Sale Sharks, Gloucester Rugby, Leeds Carnegie and Edinburgh forward has played in over 215 professional matches and has five England caps to his name. He was also a member of the 2005 British & Lions Squad that toured New Zealand.
More recently he had been a regular fixture in an exiles team chasing promotion back to the top flight of English rugby, featuring in 7 of the clubs 12 games.
Justin Burnell, Head Coach of London Welsh, said: “Andy is one of the most professional players I’ve ever worked with. His attitude and his contribution to the environment at London Welsh, both on and off the field, has been amazing.
“Those qualities will certainly put him in good stead going forwards in his post rugby playing career and he has a huge part to play in the rugby fraternity, whether that’s in coaching or in strength and conditioning.
“It’s a massive blow to us to lose Andy. His defensive qualities were fantastic - he topped the tackle count every single week.
“His outlook and the professionalism he displayed at London Welsh I’m sure were no different to the day he began his career at Sale.
“You won’t find a better role model or ambassador for a professional rugby player than Andy Titterrell. He was the ultimate professional and a true gentleman.”
Damian Hopley, Group CEO of The Rugby Players' Association (RPA), said: “Andy has been an outstanding servant of English rugby over his long and distinguished career. Not only did he scale the heights of playing for England and The British & Irish Lions, but he has been a model professional at each of the clubs he represented with distinction.
"As all his team mates will testify Andy has been an excellent professional and a positive influence around his fellow players. I have no doubt that by applying this work ethic and approach to his next career Andy will be equally successful and we all wish him the very best in his retirement.”
Following this announcement Andy will now work closely with The RPA to ensure a smooth transition into life after rugby.