GLOUCESTER and England centre Leon Lloyd has today announced that a knee injury has ended his rugby union career.
The 30-year-old, who moved to Gloucester last year from the Leicester Tigers, suffered serious bone cartilage damage in his left knee while playing against the Ospreys in the Heineken Cup in January.
In March, still plagued by the same injury, he was forced to limp off against Sale and has not played since. Yesterday top Harley Street knee specialist Andy Williams advised Lloyd that the injury was career-ending. Lloyd, who won five caps for England, announced his retirement today.
He said: "I am distraught. It was only yesterday that I found out that it was all over so it hasn't really sunk in yet."
He has been at Kingsholm for one year, having signed a two-year contract. In that time he has played eight games for Gloucester, scoring five tries.
Lloyd, a married father of two, said: "Although I'm bitterly disappointed I think I'll look back on my career and feel incredibly fortunate to have played alongside some truly great players.
"I won 12 trophies at Leicester. There was a five-year period when we won everything there was to win, we were the Manchester United of rugby, and I count myself very lucky to have been a part of that."
Lloyd scored 90 tries in his 269 games for the Tigers. He has two tries to his name in and England shirt.
He added: "I want to express my thanks to Gloucester for all the care and support the club has given me and for the help they have pledged to keep giving me."
Gloucester's head coach Dean Ryan added: "Leon is a fantastic professional - a model for anyone wanting to reach the top in the sport - and I thank him for the contribution he made to the squad last season.
"There are very few players who have achieved what Leon has during his career and we are as disappointed and upset as he is that his career has ended in this fashion. On behalf of the club, I would like to wish Leon every success for the future."
Gareth Evans was a first half replacement for the Cherry and Whites on Saturday afternoon, but the back rower's impressive carrying kept the hosts on the front foot when they needed it most to snatch a dramatic comeback win.
After his last ditch try clinched the 42-40 Aviva Premiership victory over Newcastle at Kingsholm on Saturday, Billy Burns told GRTV that all the Gloucester team deserve credit for hanging in there against a Falcons team who really made life tough for the Cherry and Whites.
Speaking ahead of Saturday's Aviva Premiership fixture at home to Newcastle Falcons (kick off 3pm), Director of Rugby David Humphreys emphasised the importance this weekend of Gloucester building on last week's impressive home victory against the Exeter Chiefs.
Speaking to the assembled national and local media, try-scorer Jonny May was delighted and relieved to have tasted victory on Saturday evening, and is looking forward to the European Rugby Challenge Cup final.
Tom Savage delivered a Man of the Match performance against Exeter Chiefs on his birthday on Saturday evening. He spoke to GRTV after the game about the importance of the European Rugby Challenge Cup win.
Speaking to the local media this week, John Afoa described the hard work that the Cherry and White have been putting in and that he is fighting fit ready for Saturday's European Rugby Challenge Cup semi final clash with Exeter Chiefs.
Gloucester Rugby return to Aviva Premiership action against the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday (Kingsholm, kick off 3pm), and make several changes to the side that defeated Exeter Chiefs at home last weekend.