CAPE TOWN – Popular South Africa flyhalf Pat Lambie admitted to both disappointment and relief after announcing his retirement from rugby at the age of 28 due to on-going concussion issues.
A fit Lambie would in all likelihood have been part of the Springbok squad at the World Cup in Japan later this year but the 56-cap back says he was no longer willing to risk his health on the rugby field.
“It is a really big decision and I have extremely mixed emotions about it,” Lambie told sarugbymag.co.za.
“I am bitterly disappointed and sad because I still have some dreams on the rugby field, and I feel like some good playing days are ahead of me.
“But on the other hand, I feel relieved to know that I will not be at risk of further, more serious head injuries.”
Lambie, who has endured a number of concussions in the last three years that have limited his time on the pitch, said it took longer to recover after each one.
He is still feeling the effects of a blow to head sustained in April playing for his French club Racing 92 against Munster.
“I am following the advice of two neurologists, one in South Africa and one in France, both of whom I have seen on a number of occasions,” Lambie said.
“Considering the number of concussions I have suffered, and above that, the amount of time it takes to shake off the symptoms afterwards, it is better to avoid the risk of further head injuries.
“We have tried rest, medication, neck treatment, jaw treatment, eye rehabilitation, multivitamins, and now I am to avoid any strenuous exercise and sports that require contact.
“Therefore, I am retiring from the game completely.”
Lambie made his test debut in 2010 and appeared for South Africa at the last two World Cup tournaments. His last test was against Wales in Nov. 2016.
(Reporting By Nick Said, editing by Nick Mulvenney)