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Courtney Lawes announces retirement from international rugby

Courtney Lawes has confirmed that he is retiring from international rugby, with the Northampton Saints forward stepping away from England duty after a 14-year international career.

The 34-year-old – who became Saint #1853 when he debuted in Black, Green and Gold back in 2007 – has been one of Northampton, England and the British & Irish Lions’ outstanding performers in recent years.

Lawes’ first international cap came just two years after his Saints debut, when England faced Australia in November 2009. He has since gone on to play 105 times for England, making him his country’s fifth-most capped male player, as well as representing his country at four World Cups and winning three Six Nations titles – including a first Grand Slam for 13 years in 2016.

He had the honour of captaining England throughout the 2021/22 season, and Lawes has also twice toured with the British & Irish Lions (in 2017 to New Zealand and 2021 to South Africa) earning five further Test caps in the process.

“I think it’s the right time,” said Lawes following England’s World Cup exit at the hands of South Africa on Saturday. “I’ve done four World Cups, so I’m pretty happy with that. The kids are at that age where they need their dad around so it will be good to be with them more.

“It’s a bit of an end of an era, but it’s been a real honour for me to represent England for so long. It flies by and I’m proud of the journey I’ve been on.

“To be able to finish with this group, it’s something I’ll treasure forever. I’ll definitely miss the boys, the banter and all the stuff we get up to when we’re not training.”

Courtney Lawes

“I’ll miss the hard work as well. And I’ll definitely miss pulling the jersey on and giving it everything for my country.”

At Club level, Lawes – who was raised just a stone’s throw from the Gardens – initially rose through Saints’ Academy ranks and broke into the first team in time to help Northampton win promotion back to the Premiership at the first time of asking.

Lawes lifted both the European Challenge Cup in 2009 and the Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2010 with Saints, before a Heineken Champions Cup Final followed in 2011.

He was then instrumental in Northampton’s greatest season to date in 2014, with the side claiming their first ever Premiership title and a second Challenge Cup trophy within eight days of each other.

Lawes was voted the Club’s Player of the Season in 2019/20 by Saints supporters, and has notched up 264 appearances in the Black, Green and Gold jersey to date – solidifying his status as one of the Club’s greatest players of all time.

Director of Rugby Phil Dowson paid tribute to an outstanding international career, and admits having Lawes back within his ranks for the remainder of this season will be a welcome boost for the entire Saints squad.

He said: “Courtney’s contribution to England cannot be underestimated; he’s one of only five men who have got 100 caps for England. He’s captained the side, he’s been at four World Cups.

“He’s done things in an England shirt that nobody has done and has always led the way in terms of his physicality. He is an England legend, effectively, and he’s coupled his physical talents with his desire to get better and improve. He has been world class.

“It’s of course a sad day for Courtney to call time on his international career, but it’s a joy for us to know he’s coming back to the Club to play for Saints.

“It’s very positive to have him back in the environment – with the confidence, experience and quality he brings, it’s ideal.”

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