England forward forced to retire
NEWS: Harlequins and England loose forward Jack Clifford has confirmed that he has been forced to retire through injury.
Battling through two major shoulder surgeries following a dislocation while playing for Harlequins in his 100th game for the club, the 27-year-old brings to an end a career that saw the impressive young flank lead the England Under-20 side to a Junior Rugby Championship title in 2013, going on to earn ten senior England caps and playing in two of the national side’s three-match series whitewash in Australia in 2016, all in addition to a fourteen-year relationship with the club, having first linked up with Harlequins at 13.
On confirming his retirement, Clifford said: “I am absolutely gutted to have to call time on my career at a relatively early stage. I have been at Quins since I was 13 years old and made so many good friends here. It has been an absolute pleasure training and playing with the lads each week and I will miss this environment greatly. I feel proud to have reached 100 appearances for Quins and it is ironic that the injury was sustained in my 100th game!”
Clifford’s Quins senior career began in November 2012 when he made his debut as a replacement in the 31-30 Anglo-Welsh Cup win over Northampton Saints.
Story continues below…
🙌 An honest interview from @jackclifford93.
— Harlequins 🃏 (@Harlequins) August 19, 2020
Clifford has captained England at Under-18 and Under-20 level, including England’s victory at the Junior World Championship in 2013. The mobile flank has also represented England in the Sevens World Series in Japan and Hong Kong in 2014 and not only played but scored for an England XV when playing the Barbarians in May 2015.
A fan favourite during his time for club and country, Clifford’s Test debut came as a replacement for club captain Chris Robshaw during the 2016 Six Nations, arriving from the bench against Scotland at Murrayfield national coach Eddie Jones’ first game in charge of England.
Head of Rugby Paul Gustard shared his disappointment of Clifford’s immediate departure from the squad: “It is with sadness that Jackman has been forced to retire from the game prematurely after another serious injury. I have been a huge fan of Jack from my days as an opposition coach and was delighted to be part of an England staff who awarded him his first of ten England caps.
“He was a player who had the ability to change a game with his explosive pace and offloading skills which, allied to his high work rate, meant he was an important player for us last season when he was a mainstay of the side who finished fifth.”
Gustard continued: “He is first and foremost a great human being and I have enjoyed watching him grow as a person and I continually applaud his courage and tenacity to fight back from each serious injury he endured. We had signed Jack on a long-term contract at the club as we believed he was a key part of what we are building and so it is disappointing for everyone that we are unable to see his talents on the field once more. It is no surprise he had started his career off as a centre!
“We of course wish him and his fiancé Karis all the best as we help him transition into the next stage of his life. No matter what he does, he was a champion on the field and from a man to a man you respect courage and there are very few people that have demonstrated that level of desire to play and find a way to come back and not only compete but excel.
“Jack – thank you for your efforts and congratulations on an incredible career. To think he played over 100 games and 10 games for England in an eight-year-career where he was effectively injured for four years shows how valued he was by anyone who coached him. He will always be remembered and will always be a Harlequin. Travel well, Cliff!”
Thank you for everything @jackclifford93 👏
The former England U20s captain who was capped 10 times for the senior team has been forced to retire through injury. pic.twitter.com/LEHOwbmIb4
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) August 19, 2020