England lock retires after 18 years, plans to swim English Channel
NEWS: England and Bath lock Dave Attwood will retire from professional rugby at the end of the 2022/23 season and to celebrate, he will be swimming the English Channel.
The 36-year-old lock has had a career spanning 18-years which has seen him amass over 350 senior appearances, the majority of which have been in Blue, Black and White.
He now plans to swim the English Channel on 19 July 2023 for Aspire, an organisation that supports people with spinal cord injuries to help them live full, independent lives, something that has been a growing concern among rugby players.
But why would a rugby player attempt something that has only been done successfully 5000 times by swimmers (compared to the 7000 successful ascents of Mount Everest)?
“I’m no stranger to putting my face in uncomfortable places… but this is usually between the sweaty backsides of some front row forwards….. the chilly waters of the English Channel will be an entirely new uncomfortable experience,” Attwood explained.
“I have already begun training and have gradually been reducing the temperature of my evening baths to help me prepare. Currently I am down to 34 degrees… currently the water in the channel is 7 degrees… so I have a way to go yet…”
Getting back to rugby, The hulking lock has represented England, Bath, Bristol Bears, Toulon, Gloucester and Dings Crusaders in National League rugby.
“I have loved every minute of being a rugby player,” Attwood said. “At times, it’s been hard. This job is so taxing on you both physically and mentally. But it’s also given me so much. It’s been fun and full of joy and friendships. Physically pushing yourself along with your teammates to find how far you are able to go. I’ve built bonds and bridges that will last a lifetime.
“It’s been hard on my family. I look at my children, Jess and Patrick, who are my biggest fans, and I think about how my mum and dad have watched me get battered every week for almost 20 years… but they supported me and helped me every day. I’ll never be able to thank them enough.
“A club is a funny thing. From the owner, to the kitman, to the hospitality staff and media department through to the Academy players. So many important relationships and so many important people. I have been absolutely privileged to have worked with some of the absolute best, across all departments, through some truly great clubs.
“I will always be thought of as a Bath player; 175 appearances for a club leaves an imprint on you. I’m grateful to the incredible Bath supporters who welcomed me and ran with me every step of the way. But mostly I’m thankful to the club, some of the most genuine and incredible players and coaches and off field staff who have shared the last decade or so with me. They gave me the opportunity to live my dream every day and it’s down to them that I have been able to do so.”
Attwood began his professional rugby career with Bristol at the start of the 2005/06 season, making his debut against Bath in the Powergen Cup. He was later capped by England Under-19s in the 2006 Junior World Cup, followed by England U20s and England Saxons in the next two seasons.
After switching to Gloucester, he earned his first full international Test cap against New Zealand, which marked the beginning of a successful career with England that culminated in a 2016 victory against South Africa.
Attwood joined Bath in 2011 and by 2014/15 was a mainstay in the team that reached the Premiership final. He later returned to Bath after a successful second spell at Bristol, and helped the team win a Challenge Cup title during the difficult Covid period.
“Dave’s longevity in the game deserves to be heralded,” Bath Head of Rugby Johann van Graan.
“An England international and a great rugby ambassador, he has given so much to the sport, particularly Bath Rugby, over 18 years.
“He epitomises what it is to be a rugby player through his leadership, application and desire to work hard every day, and with how he performed against Bristol Bears on the opening day of the season, I knew he would be an integral part of our group for the year ahead.
“Dave’s attitude towards offering advice to our younger players has been invaluable and he will go down in history as not only a Bath legend, but one of Premiership Rugby’s greats.”