George Chuter has ended a glorious 18-year rugby union career, after retiring this week with immediate effect.
The former Saracens hooker leaves the sport and his club of 13 years, Leicester Tigers, following a season where he has feature just four times, all from the bench. He had been expected to retire last year, but with Jimmy Stevens moving to London Irish, Chuter signed a new one-year deal.
The 37-year-old has played just under 300 games for Leicester, in which he has won five Premiership titles. Chuter also played in two Heineken Cup finals, but it was that winners medal which has eluded him.
He also briefly held the record for most Premiership appearances on 262, only to be beaten by Saracens lock Steve Borthwick at the weekend. Chuter is also a former England international, having won 24 caps for his country that included a substitute appearance in the 2007 World Cup final, where they lost 15-6 to South Africa.
Yet, it is his domestic achievements that have seen Chuter become one of best and most respected players to play in the English Premiership.
He began his career at London-based side Saracens, spending three years and 68 matches at the Sarries. In 2000, Chuter left the club, and took a year away from the sport to travel the world, despite being a part of the England A team.
Upon his return, he signed for Leicester, who had just been crowned Premiership champions. However, he was not an instant regular starter, with Richard Cockerill, who later became the Tigers coach, keeping Chuter out of the side.
In the summer of 2002, Cockerill left for French side Montferrand, now known as Clermont Auvergne. Since then, Chuter has been a rock for the Welford Road side, reaching his first Premiership final in 2005.
He also reached the final a year later, but was once again on the losing side.
Yet, there was some consolation for Chuter, as he won his first cap for the England senior side just a month later.
2007 was Chuter’s most successful year in rugby, as it began by winning his first Premiership winners’ medal. Just eight days later, he took part in his first Heineken Cup final, where the Tigers were defeated 25-9 by London Wasps.
He then headed to the 2007 World Cup, where he helped England reach the final at the Stade de France in Paris. Chuter came off the bench, but could not help his country retain the Webb Ellis trophy.
Two years later, he was back in a Heineken Cup final, but was beaten once again, this time with Irish side Leinster narrowly triumphing 19-16. Yet, Leicester continued to dominate in the Premiership, with Chuter claiming more winners medals in 2009, 2010 and 2013.
The hooker also won his final cap for England in 2010, and it was almost like fate.
He ended his international career against Australia, the team he made his debut against four years and eight days earlier.
Aside from his team successes, Chuter gained a personal accolade at the beginning of this year. He was inducted into the Premiership Hall of Fame, which also includes former Tigers’ players like Marin Corry, Austin Healey, Martin Johnson and current coach Richard Cockerill.
Upon the announcement of Chuter’s retirement, Cockerill told the Leicester Tigers’ website: “George has been a great servant of the club, and of professional rugby for a long time.
“He has played in some very successful teams and enjoyed many great days with this club. To play so many games at the top level of the club game, as well as internationally, and with the competition he has faced throughout his career, shows just how good a player he has been.”
Despite his recent lack of appearances, Chuter will be sadly missed at the top table of domestic rugby in England.
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