Exeter lock Tom Hayes has retired from rugby due to a back injury
Last Updated: 07/11/13 11:21am
Tom Hayes: In action against London Irish
Exeter captain Tom Hayes has retired from all forms of rugby due to a troublesome back injury.
The 33-year-old Irishman, who made 136 appearances for the Chiefs, bows out just two years after leading the club to the Aviva Premiership.
"It's been a great journey for me, but this is where I get off," said the lock forward.
"Of course it's sad to be going out like this and I'm obviously disappointed to be leaving behind the boys that I've been playing with over the last few years.
"Rugby has been my life for a long, long time now, but sometimes you have to listen to your body and what the medical people are telling you.
"For me, it's been a privilege and an honour to be part of what we've done here at Exeter in the last few years.
"To be captain for a large part of that has been a great feeling and I consider myself very lucky to have gone through what I have.
"Winning promotion into the Premiership is one of my highlights, as was getting into the Heineken Cup for the first time. To be playing sides like Clermont, Leinster and the Scarlets last year shows just how far we've come as a club.
"At the same time, I think staying up in the Premiership that first year and how we went about our business is probably the biggest highlight for me."
Exeter coach Rob Baxter praised Hayes for his contribution to the club's rise to the top flight of English rugby.
"Tom has been a big part of our journey out of the Championship and then into
the Premiership," said Baxter, who played for Exeter for 14 years before becoming coach in 2009.
"He has been there every step of the way, both as a player and as a captain,
so obviously him leaving like this is a big loss for us.
"In years to come people will look back at this period and he will be one of those guys that will go down in history."