England's James Rodwell, the most-capped player in HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series history, has announced that he will retire at the end of the current season.
Rodwell wrote his name into the history books in Hamilton in late January with the HSBC New Zealand Sevens his 90th series tournament, taking him past former All Blacks Sevens captain DJ Forbes who had retired on 89.
With two rounds of the 2019 series remaining, in London and Paris, Rodwell sits on 91 tournaments after being called up as an injury replacement in Singapore last month.
Rodwell made his England debut back in 2008, running out against USA in Dubai, and brought up 50 tournaments on the series in Hong Kong in 2014 where England reached the final.
Two years later, in Singapore, he set the record for consecutive tournaments at 69 – a record unlikely to be broken – and then became England's most-capped player in Cape Town in December 2016.
Rodwell was also pivotal member of Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games where rugby sevens made its debut, scoring two tries in the tournament to help the squad take home the silver medal behind Fiji.
As well as featuring in the Delhi 2010 and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, Rodwell helped England to bronze medal success on Australia's Gold Coast last year.
After making his first Rugby World Cup Sevens appearance in Dubai in 2009, Rodwell picked up silver medals in 2013 and 2018, losing to New Zealand in the final on both occasions in Moscow and San Francisco.
“It’s been an amazing journey from when I first started playing sevens – I would never have imagined that I’d pull on an England jersey this many times. The pleasure that I still get from representing my country is incredible and it’s still a huge honour to wear the England shirt,” said Rodwell, who has moved into coaching with the men's and women's programmes this season.
“The game of sevens has grown so much in the 12 years that I have been involved. It began with part-time players coming together for tournaments and now has players on fully-professional contracts and is about to feature in the Olympics for the second time – I’m very proud to have been a part of that.
“As well as my family there are lot of people that I have to thank for my career over the years – going all the way back to my school, university and Moseley coaches who believed in me before the likes of Ben Ryan, Russell Earnshaw and Simon Amor who have all given me so much support within the England Sevens programme. The level of detail that Simon Amor puts into getting players into the right place both physically and mentally has played such a huge part in me being able to have played for such a long time.
“The real memories come from all the players that I have been fortunate enough to play with and against throughout my career and I have forged some friendships that will last a lifetime. There is no better feeling than running out onto the pitch with some of your closest friends to some of the most passionate fans in rugby from all around the world.”
A phenomenal achievement
Head of England Sevens Simon Amor said: “I have been so fortunate to have worked with Rodders for almost six years and it has been a real pleasure to coach someone who’s not only so detailed in his thinking and so knowledgeable about the game, but who has continually strived to be truly the best player he can be.
“He is an incredibly committed and passionate player who has always put the game of sevens at the very heart of his thinking at all times, but more than that, he is an outstanding person.
“His growth mindset and desire to continually give his absolute best every single day has been inspiring and over the last few years he has also been a fantastic role model for our young academy players.
“It is difficult to overstate the impact he has had in the England Sevens programme but unfortunately retirement comes to everyone in the end – but reaching 91 tournaments is testament to the exceptional athlete he is.
“He is a very rare breed and while Dan Norton might be eyeing up his overall number of tournament caps, one that will certainly not be taken from Rodders is 69 in a row – phenomenal achievement!”