Mike Phillips: Wales scrum-half retires from international rugby

Mike Phillips with the Six Nations and Triple Crown trophies
Mike Phillips played in the Wales teams that won the Six Nations Championships in 2008, 2012 and 2013

Mike Phillips, Wales' most-capped scrum-half, has announced his retirement from international rugby.

The 33-year-old Racing 92 player has appeared in 99 Tests - 94 for Wales and five for the British and Irish Lions.

He scored nine tries for his country and was a key member of the teams that won the Six Nations title in 2013 and Grand Slams in 2008 and 2012.

"This is a chance for me to bring this chapter of my life to a close," said Phillips in a statement.

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"Playing for Wales has been such a huge part of my adult life and this is a chance for me to say thank you to everyone from family and friends, the coaches and management of the Welsh Rugby Union, all of the great players that I have been fortunate enough to play with and against and of course the fantastic Welsh fans for their great support.

"It was always a dream of mine to play for Wales, it meant everything to me and it's an amazing feeling to represent your country. For me it was a privilege."

Phillips' last match for Wales was the 35-21 defeat by Ireland in a World Cup warm-up match on 8 August this year.

He was initially left out of coach Warren Gatland's squad for the tournament, but recalled as cover for the injured Rhys Webb before the opening game against Uruguay.

Mike Phillips graphic

However, he was not included in the match-day squads for any of Wales' World Cup games.

Having spent the early part of his international career as understudy to Dwayne Peel after making his debut against Romania in 2003, Phillips became Gatland's go-to scrum-half after his appointment as Wales coach in 2007 until the autumn internationals in 2014.

The 6ft scrum-half could not have made a bigger impression in his first game under the New Zealander, scoring a try as Wales beat England 26-19 to end a 20-year losing streak at Twickenham.

Phillips regularly produced big performances in important matches for Wales, notably the quarter-final and semi-final of the 2011 World Cup, and the 31-30 defeat by South Africa in June 2014.

By the time of the 2009 Lions tour to South Africa, Phillips was the number one scrum-half in the home nations and played in all three Tests against the Springboks.

Relive three Mike Phillips magic moments

And when Gatland was named coach for the 2013 Lions tour to Australia, he put his faith in Phillips - selecting him in the first and third Tests as the Lions won the series 2-1.

Phillips' career off the field was not without controversy. He was temporarily suspended from the national squad in 2011 following a late-night altercation with a doorman in Cardiff, but re-instated in time for that year's World Cup.

His position as first choice with Wales ended during the 2014 autumn internationals when he was displaced by Webb.

And by the time the squad was named for the 2015 World Cup, Phillips had been relegated to fourth-choice number nine behind Webb, Gareth Davies and Lloyd Williams.

But his place in the hall of fame of Welsh half-backs is assured, and he stands eighth in the all-time list of Wales' most-capped players.external-link

Phillips has a contract with Racing 92 until the end of this season, but has indicated he wants to extend his time in Paris.

Mike Phillips' story will be portrayed in a documentary film - The Real Mike Phillips - to be shown on BBC One Wales on Monday, 7 December 21:00 GMT

Mike Phillips scores for Wales against France in the semi-final of the 2011 World Cup
Mike Phillips scores for Wales during the 2011 World Cup semi-final against France
Mike Phillips scuffles with South African players during the third Lions Test in 2009
Phillips' aggressive style often led to disagreements with opponents on the pitch
Mike Phillips and Niall Horan
Phillips was embroiled in a Twitter row with One Direction's Niall Horan but the pair soon patched up their differences