Rhys Webb the latest Wales player to quit ahead of Rugby World Cup

Colin Newboult

Scrum-half Rhys Webb has followed Justin Tipuric and Alun Wyn Jones in announcing his retirement from Test rugby.

The 34-year-old returned to the international fold during the Six Nations, impressing despite the team’s struggles, and was selected in the Rugby World Cup training squad.

He was therefore set to play a key part in the upcoming tournament but, just 100 days out from the start of the World Cup in France, the scrum-half has decided to step away from the Test arena.

Issues in Welsh rugby

Webb wrote on social media that “present uncertainty and difficulties in Welsh rugby” and “an opportunity to play abroad” played a key part in his decision.

The experienced playmaker has been linked with a move to French outfit Biarritz, who finished the Pro D2 in 11th place.

“Having the opportunity to play for Wales again recently has been a huge honour, and I am proud to have been named as part of the World Cup training squad,” Webb wrote on Instagram.

“However, whilst I would have relished the chance to end my career playing for a Welsh region, the present uncertainty and difficulties in Welsh rugby meant there was little opportunity for a contract that offered security for the coming years as I see out my professional career.

“As such, when an opportunity to play abroad arose, during the off-season, enabling me to provide greater career security for myself and my family, I decided to accept the offer.”

Webb made his Wales debut in 2012 and was a key player leading into the 2015 global tournament, but missed out on the competition due to a foot injury.

He then moved to France in 2018, ruling himself out of contention for the 2019 World Cup, before Warren Gatland’s departure and the arrival of Wayne Pivac signalled another lengthy Wales absence.

Exile under Pivac

Although the playmaker featured in the 2020 Six Nations, those would be his last caps until Gatland returned after Pivac’s sacking.

Webb became the first choice half-back during the recent Six Nations and looked set to make his World Cup bow later this year, but the Ospreys great has decided to retire from Test rugby.

“I feel that after achieving my goal of returning to the Wales set-up, it is the right time now for me to step away from international rugby and just enjoy my last few years as a professional rugby player,” he added.

“I would like to thank the Ospreys for continuing to believe in me, even when my omission from the Welsh squad sometimes had me doubting my own ability, and Warren for giving me a chance to pull the famous red jersey on once again.”

READ MORE: Alun Wyn Jones: Wales great calls time on his illustrious career before the Rugby World Cup