LONDON – Former England rugby union prospect Sam Jones has been forced to retire after suffering a freak injury in a judo session with Maro Itoje while training with the national team.
The uncapped 26-year-old flanker had received his first call-up to Eddie Jones's England squad 18 months ago in the lead up to the November internationals.
But while taking part in a judo session with Itoje, he suffered a broken leg and dislocated ankle in a freak accident.
Despite undergoing numerous operations, a ruptured medial ligament and damage to ankle cartilage have failed to heal and he has been advised to retire.
“Unfortunately, the injury was a complicated one and my rehab wasn't progressing the way we wanted, with multiple set-backs along the way,” Jones said. “I've therefore reluctantly had to listen to medical advice and retire from rugby. The decision was made for me, which was tough to hear. But it's a decision that I understand is in my best interests.”
Jones had represented England at every level from Under-16 to Saxons -- the England A side -- and was a stalwart for Premiership team Wasps, for whom he had played 118 times since his debut in 2010.
His club coach Dai Young believes he was on the cusp of a lengthy England career.
“It's awful news. Being a director of rugby for 16 years, unfortunately it's not the first time I've known a player retire through an injury, but Sam's situation has really hit me hard,” said Young.
“He was destined to be a Wasps legend and a club captain and I'm sure those things would have led to many England caps.”
It is understood that Jones has been compensated for the early end to his playing career through an insurance pay out, the details of which were agreed over the last two months.
“For me, getting selected for England based on my club form was a huge achievement and I'm proud that was my last contribution to the game,” said Jones.