Rugby Union

James Simpson-Daniel ends 14-year rugby career

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Former England international James Simpson-Daniel has been forced to retire from rugby with immediate effect, BBC Sport reports.

The Gloucester winger is hanging his boots up due to an ankle injury, which he picked up in November 2013.

In a career that has spanned 14 years, the one-club man holds the record for most appearances for the Kingsholm side, whilst also earning ten caps for his country.

Potential international star

After beginning his rugby life at Cumbria’s well-known Sedbergh School, which can count past and present England internationals Phil Dowson, Will Greenwood and Will Carling amongst its alumni, Simpson-Daniel moved south to Gloucester.

Given his debut against lowly Rotherham in 2001, it was the start of a career that was harshly plagued by so many injuries.

Having made his international debut in a 31-28 victory over New Zealand in November the following year, he was tipped to go to the World Cup down under in 2003.


Despite playing a vital part in England’s Six Nations success earlier in the year, where he scored his first try for them against Italy, Simpson-Daniel had to miss the World Cup triumph in Australia.

A back problem caused him to watch on as Martin Johnson and co lifted the Webb Ellis Cup, with injuries becoming a recurring theme through the 32-year-old’s career.

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This is highlighted in that Simpson-Daniel won just ten international caps throughout his career, with his last coming against South Africa in 2007.

The winger, who is also adept at outside centre, was even called up to Martin Johnson’s provisional 2011 World Cup squad, before being dropped.

Gloucester success

Domestically, there was success for Simpson-Daniel, as he helped Gloucester to finish first in the Premiership in only his second season.

They topped the table again in 2003, 2007 and 2008, but on all four occasions, Gloucester failed to make it through the play-off rounds and continue to wait to be crowned champions for the first time.

Although injuries interrupted many seasons throughout his career, Simpson-Daniel still managed to surpass the Gloucester record for most appearances.

He played 274 games for the Cherry and Whites, scoring over 110 tries during his time in the south.

There is no question that the winger will be missed at the club, with their new director of rugby claiming he loved watching the speedster in action.

Unique talent

“He was a unique talent. I played against him and, even though he was an opponent who could really hurt you on the pitch, he was a joy to watch,” said former Ulster and Ireland international David Humphreys.

While Simpson-Daniel’s career will end, his legacy will continue to live on at the club, having helped the likes of England duo Jonny May and Charlie Sharples progress at Gloucester.

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