John Barclay retires from rugby, admitting his body ‘has had enough’

Former Scotland captain calls time on his career at 33
Scotland's John Barclay at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNSScotland's John Barclay at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS
Scotland's John Barclay at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Picture: Gary Hutchison / SNS

John Barclay has called time on his rugby career at the age of 33, announcing the decision with a heartfelt message on social media.

The former Scotland captain retired from the international game last December following a 12-year Test career that ended at last year’s World Cup in Japan.

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Edinburgh announced in April that his contract would not be renewed and the player took time to consider his next move. But the 76-times capped flanker has now decided to call it quits.

“After much thought and deliberation I have decided to bring down the curtain on my career and retire from the game. When you know, you know,” he said.

“I never wanted to get to the point where I was playing for the sake of it. Physically I could have kept going for a little while, but at nowhere near the level I wanted. The body has had enough, and the mind is ready to move on to the next step.

“The opportunity to live a dream is something that not many can honestly say they did. I can say hand on heart that I did. I leave the game with enough memories to last a lifetime.”

An outstanding schoolboy player, Barclay captained Dollar Academy to a Scottish Schools Cup victory at Murrayfield in 2004. Three years later he was back at the national stadium, making his Scotland debut against the All Blacks at the 2007 World Cup, a day before his 21st birthday. He played in three World Cups but was left out for the 2015 tournament, a perplexing omission.

He returned to the international fold and enjoyed a notable career highlight by captaining Scotland to a thrilling 25-13 victory over England in 2018, their first Calcutta Cup triumph in a decade.

At club level, he excelled for Glasgow Warriors before heading to Wales to enjoy a successful stint with Scarlets which included a Pro14 triumph in 2017. He returned to Scotland in 2018, joining Edinburgh, but his two-year spell in the capital was disrupted by a serious Achilles injury and the pause caused by the Covid pandemic.

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