Edinburgh Rugby's George Taylor puts family first after 'history of head injuries' forces rugby retirement at 25

Family is important to George Taylor. That’s why after “a history of head injuries”, the centre has taken the difficult decision to retire from rugby at the age of 25.

Some of his finest memories on the field have come with his family watching on, including his BT Murrayfield debut against Southern Kings in season in 2018/19, but concussion has kept the Edinburgh, and Scotland age-group internationalist, out this season. Injuries forced his brother away from rugby too. Now, having talked it over with those closest to him last year, his sibling has followed suit.

However hard a decision it has been, Taylor says, health – and a healthy future – comes first.

“You look back at photos of yourself at games with family and you quickly realise how important family is. Obviously, rugby means so much to me. I’ve been playing since I was six and this was one of the hardest decisions I’ve had to make in my life, if not the hardest,” Taylor explained.

George Taylor has retired from rugby after missing the season so far with concussion and a 'history of head injuries'. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

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“I had a long conversation with my family prior to Christmas and they shared their opinions, while not trying not to make a decision for me. My brother also retired due to head knocks and he gave me some good insight into how he was afterwards.

“My decision to step away is ultimately down to health reasons and I’ve got to think about my health for the future.

“I’ve had a history of head injuries that have set me back for months, so after a lot of discussion with management and family, I’ve come to the conclusion that I should step away and move on to other opportunities.

“It’s certainly not been a quick decision. It’s been thought through ever since I got a concussion while in pre-season back in August. It’s been on my mind and I’ve made some sacrifices to try and prepare for life after rugby.

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Scotland's George Taylor warms up ahead of a Guinness Six Nations tie between Scotland and Wales at BT Murrayfield, on February 13, 2021. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

“Throughout this all, the support of both the Edinburgh Rugby and Scottish Rugby medical teams has been massive and I’ll forever be thankful for their ongoing care and support.”

The 25-year-old has put plans in place to move into the family business after hanging up his boots, but it was saying farewell to his ‘other’ work family, in the dressing room, that proved another hurdle after his difficult decision had been reached.

“I spoke to the boys and told them my decision earlier this week. Driving into the stadium and walking into BT Murrayfield, I thought ‘this will be fine’, but then I saw all the boys sitting there and it was just a really emotional moment. I thanked them for everything they’ve done in my career; they’ve been a massive part of it.”

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A future dealing with finance in a veterinary pharmaceutical suppliers awaits in July after his rugby career officially ends with an anticipated Scotland cap so close, yet still elusive.

A product of Melrose, where he won the Premiership and Cup double in 2018, international honours were registered as Taylor progressed through the age-ranks to under-20 where he scored once in seven appearances.

A move to Edinburgh followed and there, Taylor enjoyed a breakout season in 2018/19 beginning with his November debut against Munster. The centre went on to make 19 appearances while scoring important tries in home victories over Wasps, in the Challenge Cup, and Cardiff en route to Edinburgh’s first-ever PRO14 semi-final, against Ulster.

He built on that the following season 2020/21 – scoring twice in 15 appearances – and the centre was included in Gregor Townsend’s pool for the 2021 Summer Tests which were eventually cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic. He was also a late call to the Six Nations squad ahead of last year’s match with Wales, but didn’t see any action.

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However, the pride of playing at BT Murrayfield for Edinburgh, in front of his family can’t ever be taken away from him.

“One of my proudest moments has got to be making my debut against Munster, playing against some huge names in the game and at one of the most famous stadiums in world rugby,” he added.

“Then making my first home appearance at BT Murrayfield against Southern Kings with my family supporting was absolutely amazing. Then just playing at grounds such as The Principality Stadium and Racing 92’s La Defense Arena has been absolutely surreal.

"Being in and around the group of boys at Edinburgh. It’s a special group and they are going to do very well and go very far.

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“I’m now looking forward to watching them play as a fan and I will hopefully be able to catch-up with supporters at a game very soon.”

He has watched from the sidelines this season, and after his decision coach Mike Blair paid tribute.

“We’re obviously gutted for George and we’ll be sad to see him leave the club because we’re losing a great player and an even better person, that been an integral member of our playing squad for the last four seasons.

“It’s never easy to see any player step away from the game at a young age, however, health and family always comes first and it’s clear that George hasn’t taken this decision lightly in any way – rugby is the sport he loves, so I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for him.

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“George is a great guy and someone that players and supporters respect massively because of his commitment to the jersey and the way he plays the game. He’ll be sorely missed by everyone connected to Edinburgh Rugby and we wish him the very best moving forward.”

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