FORMER WALES AND Ospreys flanker Jonathan Thomas has announced his retirement from rugby after being diagnosed with epilepsy.
The 32-year-old, who played 67 times for his country between 2003 and 2011 will leave the game with immediate effect on the advice of doctors.
Most worryingly, the Worcester Warriors flanker says in a statement on the club’s website that his epilepsy is believed to have been caused by repeated head injury.
“I was diagnosed with epilepsy last season, which is thought to be from multiple head traumas and has led to a degree of brain injury.
“I’ve done everything in my power to keep playing, however, there comes a point when you realise you need to listen to medical experts and also do what’s best for your wellbeing.
“I’m keen to stress there are many different types of epilepsy and I’m fortunate to only suffer from it in a mild way compared to some. Naturally though, it has proved too difficult to continue as a professional athlete.”
Thomas was advised to end his career on the advice of doctors, according to Worcester’s high performance director Nick Johnston.
“But unfortunately on the advice of consultants, he has been advised to retire from professional rugby,” he said.
Thomas enjoyed a decorated playing career with both club and country, winning two Six Nations grand slam titles, with his final appearance for his country coming just prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
Thomas was also a part of four Celtic League/Pro12 titles for the Ospreys, playing more than 180 games for them in 10 years.
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
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Despite being forced into early retirement, Thomas is hoping to continue his involvement in the game, working at grass-roots level to highlight player safety and the impact of head injuries.
“I’ve learnt a huge amount during the last few months about head trauma, seizures and epilepsy, and it would be great if I could help out in some way.
“At the elite level of the game I think the unions and medical departments of clubs do a great job and have a great understanding but I still think it’s the players who need more educating about the warning signs and getting out of that ‘digging in’ mentality.
“Grass-roots also need as much help and support as possible in regards to this subject.
“I must stress however, in no way would I discourage anyone from playing the game that has given me so much. Also in no way do I regret anything about my rugby career and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
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