Two-time Six Nations winner Jack Clifford has announced his retirement from rugby aged 27, admitting he has been unable to fully recover from a shoulder injury sustained in his 100th game for club side Harlequins.
The combative back-rower featured prominently in the England setup at various levels, making his full Red Rose debut in the first round of the 2016 Six Nations against Scotland – Eddie Jones’ first game in charge.
Clifford made substitute appearances in all five of England’s matches as they surged to the Grand Slam, and went on to win five further Test caps, including two in England’s successful defence of the Championship trophy a year later.
But having battled through two major shoulder surgeries following a dislocation while playing for Quins against London Irish at the beginning of the 2019/20 season, Clifford has reluctantly walked away from the game.
He said: “I am absolutely gutted to have to call time on my career at a relatively early stage, but unfortunately my last injury just hasn’t healed well enough to allow me to continue playing.
“Rugby is a game I love – I’ve had some amazing highs, made great memories and best friends. I’ve also had a few lows, and owe a lot to the people closest to me who helped me and kept me going.
“It has been an absolute pleasure training and playing with the lads each week and I will miss the rugby environment greatly.”
As well as enjoying success in the senior England ranks, Clifford captained England at Under-18 and Under-20 level, including England’s victory at the Junior World Championship in 2013.
The mobile flanker won two Six Nations Under-20 Championship titles in 2012 and 2013, and also represented England in the Sevens World Series in Japan and Hong Kong in 2014.