Wasps and the Italian Rugby Federation have announced that Andrea Masi has failed to recover from the Achilles tendon injury he suffered in September during Italy’s RWC 2015 opener.
Following advice from medical experts, Masi has been forced to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
The 35-year-old full back/centre won 95 caps for his country, including four Rugby World Cups for the Azzurri, and made 59 appearances for Wasps.
Over the past four years, Masi’s unfaltering commitment to the club and to his team-mates has made him one of the most respected members of the squad as well as a fans’ favourite.
Having helped to drive standards, while always leading by example, Masi is held in the highest esteem by everyone at Wasps. Famed for his ferocity in defence and disregard for his personal safety to help the team, the Italian international will leave an indelible mark on the squad.
Following the news, Andrea said: “Rugby has been at the core of my life for the past 20 years, and it’s not easy to close such an important chapter of my life. But I’m conscious that I need to follow expert’s medical advice and that this is the only possible way.
“Despite the recovery process progressing positively in the early stages, it didn’t heal as hoped and it became clear I wouldn’t be able to continue playing professional rugby. I’m satisfied that I made every possible effort to come back from the injury, but sadly it wasn’t to be.
“I gave a lot to the game I love, and the game gave a lot to me. I’m curious and excited about the new challenges that I’ll face in the near future.
“I’d like to thank Dai Young and all at Wasps for bringing me into their family four years ago, for believing in me and for staying by my side over the last, hard, 10 months: their loyalty and support is something I will never forget.
“I’m leaving a great, healthy club and I know I’ll always feel part of this family. I’ve no doubt this Wasps team will give a lot of satisfaction to our fans in the upcoming years and I wish the coaches and my team-mates every success as they deserve it.
“I’d also like to wish, from the bottom of my heart, my thanks to the Italian team and to the Head Coaches who trusted in me over the years, giving me the privilege of representing my country in the 6 Nations and in four Rugby World Cups. It was an unbelievable journey, an extraordinary honour. I’ll always bring with me such great memories, such as winning my first cap in my home-town L’Aquila or beating France in Rome.
“To Sergio (Parisse), Ugo (Edoardo Gori) and to all the boys: the very best of luck. I’m sure that under Conor O’Shea’s leadership, the team will fully express its enormous potential and perform at its best.”
Wasps’ Director of Rugby Dai Young said: “It’s hard to summarise the contribution Andrea has made to Wasps because his impact has been tremendous in all areas of the club.
“His loyalty to stick with Wasps during the tough times, when he received numerous offers to play elsewhere, will never be forgotten.
“Maso is one of the most genuine and considerate characters you could wish to meet and is someone who never shirks a challenge. That is what makes his enforced retirement all the harder to bear as he has worked his socks off and done everything humanly possible to come back from the Achilles’ injury.
“Andrea is the ultimate professional who epitomises what a role model should be in sport. He is hugely respected by the coaches, senior players and young players coming through.
“His commitment and ability in defence will be hard to match and the standards he set himself and others here are world class. Andrea will be sorely missed at the club and we wish him and his family the very best for the future.”
Alfredo Gavazzi, Italian Rugby Federation President, paid tribute to Masi’s career: “Andrea has been a great professional, a magnificent player, an example to follow for our youngsters.
“Italy will miss him a lot. He gave a huge contribution to the Italian jersey, helping to boost the Game in our Country. On behalf of the whole Italian rugby community, I’d like to thank him for his commitment, his passion and for the love he has continuously shown to the National Team.
“I wish him and his family all the best for the future.”