Stuart Hooper: Bath captain retires with immediate effect
Last updated on .From the section Rugby Union
Bath captain Stuart Hooper has retired from rugby union with immediate effect because of a back injury.
The 34-year-old former Saracens and Leeds Carnegie lock has played 232 Premiership matches, including 138 for Bath, who he joined in 2008.
Hooper's 10th and final appearance of this season came in March's 21-19 win at home to Newcastle Falcons.
"You need to be 100% to play for Bath at this level, so my playing days are now over," he told BBC Radio Bristol.
"I did the injury in December against Leicester. I missed five or six weeks initially, got it back to a stage when I could play, but didn't get it right unfortunately.
"I implicitly trust their [the surgeon's] judgement. Now I'm very, very excited about the next challenges in life."
Hooper, who sits ninth on the all-time list of Premiership appearance makers, became Bath's captain in 2011.
His side are currently ninth in the Premiership.
"To lead like he has done is a great tribute to the man," said Bath head coach Mike Ford. "To get this far is a great achievement, to play in the position that he plays for 16 years at the top level.
"Stuart made a decision at the beginning of the season that this was going to be his last. It's not quite on his terms but it's only four games off his terms. Some people have to retire with years left in them.
"He's had a fabulous career and we're hoping and planning that he stays around the club and works both with me and the commercial side as well. He's not going away.
"He's a fantastic individual of great character and the club have recognised that we need people like that in the organisation. He'll be here for a long time."