Wales' Alix Popham retires because of injury

Alix Popham
Popham celebrates Wales' win over England in 2008 - his last cap for his country

Wales international Alix Popham has retired following medical advice.

The former Newport, Scarlets and Leeds number eight was hoping to join a Welsh region next season after spending three years away with Brive in France.

But after having reconstruction surgery on his shoulder, the 31-year-old has been told the injury presents too high a risk for him to continue playing.

"It's incredibly disappointing, but the advice is my playing days are over," said Popham, capped 33 times by Wales.

Popham moved to Brive in 2008 after the French club agreed to pay a six-figure fee to release him from his contract with Llanelli Scarlets.

The move came shortly after he came off the bench after 13 minutes in Wales' Six Nations win over England at Twickenham.

He was dropped from the squad for the remaining matches in the championship by coach Warren Gatland, who cited a lack of on-field discipline, and has not played for his country since.

Popham, who played at the 2003 and 2007 World Cups, says he now hopes to forge a career for himself as a coach.

"I'm currently assessing my options, but I would love to stay in rugby and I'm going to get involved with Newbridge youth and do my coaching badges and take it from there," he said.

"The game has given me so much, I've been all over the world and had lots of amazing experiences and memories to look back on and have also made some great friends.

"It's a sad day to realise it's the end of a chapter for me, but it also makes me extremely happy to reflect on the experiences and achievements I've been lucky enough to take in during my rugby career.

"I remember strongly the emotions and elation of winning the Principality Cup as 22-year-old a decade ago with Newport and bringing the trophy back to Rodney Parade was one of my early highlights.

"We won the Powergen at Leeds in 2005, which was another real highlight, and then I came back to Wales with the Scarlets.

"There were some great nights at Stradey Park, but none greater than Toulouse in the Heineken Cup in 2007. They have always been one of the top clubs in Europe and we beat them home and away that year in two epic matches.

"With Wales, nearly beating New Zealand in the 2003 Rugby World Cup stands out, but beating England at Twickenham for the first time in 23 years in 2008, which then led to the Grand Slam, has to be the highlight."

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