Bath have announced that club captain Stuart Hooper has been forced to retire with immediate effect due to injury.
The lock, who has made 192 appearances, joined Bath in 2008 following successful stints with Saracens and Leeds. He suffered a back injury earlier this season, and has since received medical advice that he should not play again.
“I’ve had an incredible career, and these last eight years with Bath are ones I will look back on with great fondness,” said Hooper.
“I am sad to have not been able to retire on my own terms, however when the medical experts are telling you it’s time, you have to listen to them.”
Hooper has been captain of Bath for five seasons, with cead coach Mike Ford describing him as the best captain he has worked with.
“I have loved my time at Bath, made some lifelong friends and worked with some of the most talented people in the sport,” Hooper continued.
“I’d like to thank all the players, coaches, staff and supporters who have helped make this such an enjoyable period of my life. I feel a huge amount of pride to have worn the Bath jersey and to have led this great Club over the last five years – it has been an absolute honour.”
Ford added: “Hoops has been an incredible asset to this Club over the years, and a fantastic role model for our squad.
“He has been the very epitome of a professional – a skilful, intelligent player, a very strong communicator and leader, and he has the respect of everyone in the game.
“We are hugely disappointed for Hoops that he has been forced to retire and wasn’t able to finish the season, but I know he will be doing all he can to assist the squad in any way he can.”