16 April 2012, 10:56pm
Bath Rugby announced today that Duncan Bell is to retire from the game at the end of the season.
A firm favourite amongst the Bath Rugby supporters, tighthead prop Duncan has made over 200 appearances in his time with the Club, having joined from Pontypridd in 2003. He's also scored eight tries in the Blue, Black and White, cementing his place in the Rec faithful's affections.
He has represented England five times, and was part of the England Saxons squad in 2010 who won the Churchill Cup.
Speaking about the decision to retire Duncan said: "I have had a fantastic career, from starting out at Quins through to the last nine years here with Bath. I began playing rugby for Bath Minis, so to have had such a long career here has been amazing and it's been an honour to run out in the Bath shirt over 200 times.
"I'd like to thank all the players, coaches and staff I've worked with over the years, and also the supporters who supported me throughout my career. It's been a difficult decision to make, but I'm looking forward to the new challenges that await, primarily with my business Bell Financial Services."
Nick Blofeld, Bath Rugby Chief Executive, added: "Belly has been a great servant to Bath Rugby throughout his time here, and has always been a larger than life character to have around; it is no surprise he became a real crowd favourite. We would like to thank him for all his time with the Club and wish him the best of luck for the future."
Duncan has also announced this week that he has been bravely battling with depression for some time.
Talking about this, RPA CEO, Damian Hopley, said: "On behalf of all of our RPA members I would like to commend and congratulate Duncan Bell, not only on his outstanding rugby career, but also on his extremely brave decision to address the issue of depression as he retires from the game in order to help his peers who may be facing similar challenges in their lives.
"Duncan is widely respected as one of the most talented and enduring players in the Bath squad, with excellent footballing skills that deservedly earned him full England honours, and his humble and approachable nature have made him one of the most popular players ever to have played for club or country.
"To the outside world, Duncan has always appeared the most upbeat of characters, rarely without a smile on his face and always one to make or take a joke. Privately, Duncan has had some considerable challenges in his life and I cannot speak highly enough of the courage he is now showing to speak openly about the depression he has suffered from over the past few years."
"We know how uncomfortable Duncan has found it to openly discuss this illness, which until recently has been seen as a taboo subject in professional sport and it is to his tremendous credit he is confronting this head on. The fact that someone as popular and as well-known as Duncan is coming forward to speak about his personal struggle will help to raise awareness of the issue and will reassure others who may be suffering in silence.
"On behalf of everyone at The RPA, I would like to thank Duncan for having put his own anxieties and concerns to one side to help us produce a video for our Mental Health seminars which are being presented to players at every Aviva Premiership Club from the end of this season.
"Duncan wanted to use this RPA seminar to make other players in his situation know they are not alone and it is perfectly normal to ask for help. He is also helping us to promote our confidential counselling service with LPP Consulting, which has been in place for four years now. This service is funded by The RPA Benevolent Fund and a team of professional psychologists and psychiatrists are on hand to help with a number of issues ranging from depression to career ending injury, burn-out, stress, anxiety, bereavement or addiction.
"We would also like to thank Bath Rugby for the fantastic support they continue to show Duncan at this challenging time and we will continue to work closely together, as we do with all Aviva Premiership Rugby Clubs, to assist players wherever possible in their private and public life."