Simon Cross admits defeat in his fight against knee injuries

EDINBURGH'S club captain Simon Cross has admitted defeat in his long battle with knee problems by announcing his retirement from the game.

The 29-year-old has been plagued by injury during the last two years and will hang up his boots at the end of the season, but now wants to work as a coach.

The flanker, who was an unused substitute for Scotland against Wales in 2004, said: "My life has been in rugby and I've loved the time I have spent at Edinburgh. I've been very proud to be part of the Edinburgh team. I could not contemplate walking away and not putting anything back into it. I hope coaching will be my passion now."

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Head coach Rob Moffat said: "Simon has been an influential figure in the club and, in many ways, a model professional. He has made a great effort to build the club ethos at Edinburgh.

"It has been as frustrating for us as it has been for him that injuries have restricted his involvement on the pitch in the last couple of seasons but I am sure that the same application he brought to his playing career will feature as he takes on a greater role in coaching."

Cross, who represented Edinburgh on 92 occasions, won international honours at Sevens, under-19 and under-21 levels. During his stint as a professional, he spent five and half years coaching and occasionally playing at Penicuik and in the past two years has coached at Murrayfield Wanderers. He has also been linked to Selkirk through the Premier 1 draft.

"It's been ten brilliant years for me," Cross added. "Every schoolboy's dream is to be a professional sportsman and I've done that. While it might appear to some people that I'm departing a bit early, rugby is moving so fast now and you have to be right at the top of your game to compete well."

Although Cross was not called upon as a substitute in Scotland's clash with Wales at the Millennium Stadium six years ago, he harbours no regrets that his full international career failed to take off.

"There are definitely no 'What ifs'," he insisted. "I was involved in that scenario, in front of a full house at the Millennium Stadium, singing the anthem on the pitch. There have been other highlights too – playing in the Heineken Cup quarter-final for Edinburgh against Toulouse, representing Scotland on the IRB Sevens World Series circuit, helping Penicuik to win their own sevens for the first time in 18 years."

Cross's eligibility to represent his country was only finalised after a case was prepared for the IRB Regulations Committee to determine whether he qualified to play for Scotland.

Born in a British military hospital in Mauritius (his mother, Fiona, was also born in a British military hospital in Germany) his father, Peter, is an English citizen. Through his maternal side, his grandfather was born in a British military hospital in India, as was his great-grandfather. His great-great grandfather was born in Scotland.

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Cross turned down opportunities to play for the England under-21 team in 2002, and in its ruling the IRB committee spoke of a "truly unique set of circumstances." It said: ". . . close links to Scotland were further demonstrated by the fact that the player (who was eligible to play for other unions] refrained from representing such other unions."

As far as the immediate future is concerned, Cross, who is completing a Masters in sports coaching at Stirling University, is stepping down after two years as part of the coaching team at Murrayfield Wanderers and is currently discussing coaching roles with a number of clubs and schools.

Henry Edwards, Scottish Rugby's head of performance development who has taken a key interest in Cross's development as a coach, said: "Simon has shown a commitment to develop his coaching skills for some time.

"As far as pro-players developing into pro-coaches of the future he has worked with the Scotland under-18 squad for the past two seasons as part of his continuous professional development and we have created individual coach development plans for him.

"I am confident, with what I have seen so far, that Simon has the qualities to become a very good coach."

Cross added: "It is now time to move on. I do so with happy memories and hope that in whatever my next role is that I can continue to uphold and advance rugby's traditions and values."