Concussion forces Scotland forward Lewis Carmichael to retire at the age of 26

Concussion has curtailed the career of Lewis Carmichael, the Edinburgh and Scotland forward, who has announced his retirement from professional rugby at the age of 26.

Lewis Carmichael scores a try on his Scotland debut, against Canada in Edmonton in 2018. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS
Lewis Carmichael scores a try on his Scotland debut, against Canada in Edmonton in 2018. Picture: Gary Hutchison/SNS

It is a sadly premature ending for Carmichael who nevertheless packed a lot into his years in the pro game.

A product of North Berwick High School, the lock made a try-scoring debut for Scotland, coming off the bench in the 48-10 victory over Canada in Edmonton in 2018.

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He won one more cap, against the United States on the same tour, before his career was interrupted by concussions and a serious knee injury.

Carmichael belongs to an elite group of Scots to have played Super Rugby in the southern hemisphere, enjoying a loan spell with Western Force in Perth, Australia, in 2017.

The bulk of his pro career was spent with Edinburgh for whom he made 47 appearances after coming through the Scottish Rugby Academy.

He also enjoyed a successful stint with Melrose, helping them win the Scottish Premiership title in 2014.

“Unfortunately, I’ve taken the decision to retire following advice from my medical advisers having sustained a number of concussions over a short period of time,” Carmichael said.

Lewis Carmichael in action for Scotland U20 against New Zealand during the 2014 Junior World Championship in Auckland, New Zealand. Picture: Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images

“I’m obviously gutted I’ll no longer be playing professional rugby but I know it’s the right decision having discussed my situation with a number of specialists and the medical teams at both Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby.”

Richard Cockerill, the Edinburgh head coach, paid tribute to Camichael and said he would be a big loss to the side.

“As a club, we’re obviously gutted for Lewis. It’s never easy to see any player step away from the game at a young age,” said Cockerill.

"He’s a good man, and a player that has given a lot to Edinburgh Rugby over the years. He’ll be sorely missed by the coaching staff and squad, and we wish him all the very best.”

Lewis Carmichael scores for Edinburgh during the European Challenge Cup tie against Krasny Yar at Murrayfield in 2017. Picture: Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

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Carmichael made his Edinburgh debut against Munster in 2016 and established himself in the team in the 2017-18 campaign, earning a call-up for Scotland’s summer tour.

“I really do look back on my memories with Edinburgh with great fondness – the connections I’ve made with teammates will be friendships that I have for the rest of my days,” added Carmichael.

“It was obviously a huge honour and dream come true getting my first cap for Scotland against Canada. My dad was out there and saw me play, so it was just an amazing feeling and a really proud moment for my family.”

Carmichael is now working with Scottish Rugby’s player support programme, Rugby for Life, and is enrolled in a career planning course as he contemplates his next move.

“Looking ahead, I’ve not made any final decisions on what I want to do next season but, as a rugby fan, I’m really keen to stay in the sport in some capacity and do some coaching,” he said.

“There’s nothing nailed down at the moment but I’m going to take a bit of time to just relax and plan my next steps – I’m excited for that next challenge.”

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