Scarlets and Wales back-rower James Davies has confirmed his decision to retire from professional rugby due to concerns over concussion.
The 31-year-old hasn’t featured for club or country since he faced Georgia in the Autumn Nations Cup in November 2020. Davies—younger brother of fellow fan favourite and Scarlets captain Jonathan—has suffered from repeat head knocks and stressed his desire to step down in order to prevent a more serious setback.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of my career here at the Scarlets and made some amazing friends along the way, but after speaking to specialists it’s pretty clear I can’t go on playing rugby,” he said in a statement published on the official Scarlets website. “At the moment, thankfully, I am able to lead a normal life, something I wasn’t able to do for a long time after the knock I had.
“Any bang to the head in training or in a game and I could go back to the start of all this, which is unthinkable for me. It has been a tough couple of years, but the support I have had from my family, friends, team-mates, coaches and the club has been incredible and I am hugely grateful for that.”
The nine-year Scarlets veteran made his senior Wales debut in a Six Nations victory over Italy in March 2018. He went on to win 11 caps for his country and was part of the 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, not to mention winning a sevens silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Davies also formed a crucial part of the Scarlets squad that beat Munster to win the 2017 PRO12 title. Recognised as an intimidating back-row force and a menace at the breakdown, tributes of support have flooded in for the Parc y Scarlets star.
David Davies/PA Wire)
“Cubby has been a great Scarlet, a phenomenal player who gave everything for the shirt and a huge character around the group,” said head coach Dwayne Peel following Friday’s announcement. “Even when not playing, he has been enthusiastic and fantastic around the squad. He loves the club and loves everything about the place and just wants to help the side improve in whatever way he can.
“We have all seen how hard he has worked to try and get back on the field. It has been tough for him because you know how much he has missed playing, but a person’s health always has to come first. I’m sure Cub will continue to have a big impact on rugby — the game needs his knowledge and foresight. We all wish him well with what comes next.”
Scarlets general manager Jon Daniels hailed the injury-plagued personality as a “uniquely mischievous character,” who “has always been true to himself.” Off the field, Davies has built a business called My Cubby Store, a luggage company providing pet-owners with products to take dogs and other animals with them on their travels.