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11 February 2013, 10:39am

Bath Rugby Legend Forced to Retire With Immediate Effect

Bath Rugby is incredibly sad to announce the retirement of hooker Lee Mears with immediate effect.

Through the Club's medical screening programme, an abnormality that is known to occur in some athletes was noticed on Mears's cardiac screening. He has been informed that there is a significant potential risk of developing further complications if he continues to perform the prolonged strenuous exercises required to be an elite rugby player. He has therefore been advised by a specialist to retire from professional rugby.

A veteran of 268 Club appearances, 42 England caps as well as one for the British and Irish Lions, Mears has been with the Club since 1997. Speaking of the decision, he said: "Bath is my Club and I love it. This is not how I saw it ending but I feel enormously proud to have played for such a Club so many times. This will be a tough period, but the memories I have and the friends I have made over the years will be of huge support. Thank you to the Club and to the supporters, I've loved every minute."

Bath Head Coach, Gary Gold, said: "Mearsy is a legend, pure and simple. His retirement will be felt by all of us at the Club, and also by the supporters who have cheered him on over the years. The only thing that matters is that he is healthy, and if that means he stops playing, then that's the way it has to be. He will be missed, but we will always welcome him back with open arms. This is his Club, and it always will be. We send him off with real affection and gratitude."

Former Bath team-mate and now RPA Rugby Director, David Barnes, said: "I was shocked when I heard from Lee that he would have to retire from professional rugby immediately. I know how big a loss this will be to the Club and to the fans. Mearsy is the type of player you can build a squad around –he has been a central figure in the dressing room for years and has shown outstanding footballing skills during his career as well as a physicality belying his stature.

"Having seen other players forced to retire Lee has been sensible in building other interests outside of rugby, but when your career is cut short so unexpectedly it can take time to come to terms with the situation. Everyone at the RPA will be there to support Lee as he makes his transition."

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