The sport of rugby was in shock on Thursday when news broke that Gloucester lock Ed Slater has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Slater, 33, has subsequently retired from playing with immediate effect, with Gloucester releasing a statement confirming the devastating news.
“Gloucester Rugby is deeply pained to announce that Ed Slater has been diagnosed with motor neurone disease,” the Premiership outfit wrote.
Six months of testing
“Following six months of testing, Ed’s diagnosis was confirmed last week, and as a result, with the support of his family, friends and Gloucester Rugby, he has made the difficult decision to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.
“Everyone at Gloucester Rugby – players, management and staff – are entirely committed to supporting Ed, his wife Jo and his three children in whatever way required.
“We know the same will be true of Gloucester and Leicester fans, and the wider rugby community.
“While Ed, his family and the club take time to determine next steps, Gloucester Rugby have opened a JustGiving page.
“The direction of these funds will be determined in due course, whether it be supporting Ed and his family directly and/or a selected MND charity.
“Neither the club nor the Slater family will be making any further comment at this time, and kindly request that those wishes be respected.”
Slater, who also played for Leicester and England Saxons during his career, signed for the Cherry and Whites in 2017 after seven years at Tigers.
Slater offered support
Leicester were “extremely saddened” by the news, while Premiership Rugby tweeted: “Everyone at Premiership Rugby would like to offer their 100% support to Ed, his family and @gloucesterrugby We will support you @edslater in whichever is best for you and your family.”
Meanwhile, the Rugby Players’ Association tweeted: “The RPA team and members are extremely saddened to hear of the retirement of @edslater today due to MND diagnosis. He’s been an outstanding player for Gloucester and Leicester over his long and distinguished career.
“We will always be here to help and support Ed and his family as they face the challenges ahead, and will be on hand to provide our dedicated services for them through this difficult time.”