Gloucester: Andy Hazell forced to retire by concussion injury

Concussion issue growing - Hazell

Gloucester's former England flanker Andy Hazell has been forced to retire after failing to recover from a pre-season concussion injury.

"If I was 25 or 26, I'd 100% be trying to get back onto that pitch no matter what cost," the 35-year-old said.

Hazell has now pledged to help raise awareness of concussion in rugby.

"I'd love to help out because I wouldn't want to see any young lad going through the same thing when maybe they shouldn't be playing," he said.

Hazell has quit midway through his 17th season at Gloucester, a Premiership record for the longest time spent at a club.

The openside flanker suffered the concussion during a pre-season friendly against Plymouth Albion at Kingsholm.

"For the first time in my career I've listened to my body. With the age I am and with my family, I had to listen to what my body was telling me," Hazell told BBC Radio Gloucestershire.

"It's going to be hard to shut it all off instantly."

Hazell narrowly missed out on being included in England's 2003 World Cup squad before eventually winning seven caps.

"Looking back, when I was there with England I should have been more confident," said Hazell. "But I'll take the seven. I'm happy I managed to play for my country."

His retirement comes less than a month after the Rugby Football Union announced that all professional players and coaches in England will have compulsory education on concussion before the start of next season.

"They [the RFU] are getting there - the protocols that are in place and the stuff they are doing behind the scenes is the right step forward, but it will be an ongoing discussion into how they will combat this issue," added Hazell.

"It's a massive issue. Players are getting bigger and faster, and the collisions are getting a lot bigger. I've been managed brilliantly by the club. Hats off to them."

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