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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 March, 2004, 11:34 GMT
Leonard to quit Test rugby
Jason Leonard in action during his 100th Test for England
England prop Jason Leonard is to retire from international rugby at the end of the RBS Six Nations Championship.

The veteran forward is world rugby's most capped player after playing his 114th Test against Italy last month.

But Leonard was omitted from England's Six Nations squad against Ireland and does not want to tour Australia and New Zealand this summer.

"You have to put a stop to your career at some point and that time has now arrived," Leonard said.

Leonard, who made his Test debut in 1990, informed England coach Sir Clive Woodward of his decision on Tuesday.

I would like him to consider a coaching role
Sir Clive Woodward
"I have no doubt that this is the time to bow out of international rugby for the right reasons," Leonard added.

"This is my decision, I have nothing to prove to anybody and I have been lucky enough to have achieved more than I could have ever dreamed of when I started in 1990.

"I have no regrets and have enjoyed every minute, but I realise that by not making myself available for England's summer tour that this had to be my final Six Nations campaign."

Woodward said the 35-year-old would remain in contention for the final two games against Wales and France.

"I had a long and positive chat with Jason this morning when he told me of his decision," Woodward said.

"Jason has been an outstanding ambassador for the game on and off the pitch.

"All of his caps for England have been earned on merit and his contribution towards four Grand Slams and our World Cup win has been massive over the last 14 years."

Leonard began his career at Barking before moving on to Saracens and then Harlequins in 1990, where he has played his club rugby ever since.

As well as his record-breaking England career, Leonard has also toured three times with the British and Irish Lions, playing in five Tests.

"He will be sorely missed by his team-mates in the England squad, the coaches, management and of course the fans," added Woodward.

"When Jason decides to retire from club rugby I would like him to consider a coaching role within the game and hopefully at the RFU.

"He has a lot to offer and his experience would be invaluable.

"On behalf of the England team I'd like to wish him every success in the future."


WATCH AND LISTEN
Former England skipper Will Carling
"Jason was a great team man"


BBC Sport's Ian Robertson
"Jason is admired and respected the world over"



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