Dragons centre Marc Stcherbina has been forced to retire from rugby following a serious neck injury he incurred playing for the Dragons in their Heineken Cup match against Toulouse earlier this season.
"Obviously this is not how I would have liked my playing career to have ended," said Marc. "But after consulting with my surgeon, although my rehabilitation has brought much improvement to my injured arm and shoulder, I am still a long way from the level of recovery needed to return to training and playing at the required standard, not to mention the long term risks involved with the contact nature of professional rugby."
" I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank the Dragons for their continued support this season, particularly during these past 6 months. Every member of staff here together with the players and fans have made me feel welcome since I arrived and have shown overwhelming concern and support since my injury.
The 32-year old, Australian-born Centre began his senior career with the Super 12 outfit New South Wales Waratahs and represented the Australia sevens and Australia A sides.
"Marc is a quality guy as well as a great player and his loss was a big blow to the side," said Dragons Head Coach Paul Turner. Although it is not unexpected, given the injury that Marc has had to retire, it is obviously disappointing for him and the Dragons. In his short time at the Dragons he made a huge impact.
"I was very pleased when we were able to secure his services for the season and until his injury he certainly lived up to every expectation.
"Marc has proved through his time in France, England and Wales that he has been one of the top performers European rugby has seen over the last few years and we wish him all the best in his retirement."
Marc joined the Dragons on loan from Cardiff Blues at the beginning of last season after stints with former European Champions Northampton Saints and five-times French Champions Biarritz Olympique.
"We are bitterly disappointed for Marc," said Dragons Chief Executive Gethin Jenkins. "He has shown great patience and determination throughout his rehabilitation and it is very sad for his career to end in this way.
"I'd like to thank him for his positive contribution and commitment to the Dragons this season both on the playing field and during his rehabilitation. Following his injury, Marc immediately put himself forward to participate in community and development projects and has been a great role model for young players. He has been a great servant to the club and I wish him the very best for the future."
Cardiff Blues Chief Executive, Robert Norster also paid tribute to Marc.
"On behalf of everyone here at the Arms Park I'd like to offer our sincere best wishes and pob lwc on hearing of the news of his enforced and premature retirement from the game," he said.
"Marc joined the Cardiff Blues in 2006 having played in every match of a 29 game season for Northampton Saints the previous year. Prior to that, successful spells with both the Waratahs in his native Australia and Biarritz made Marc not only a widely travelled and experienced individual, but also a sought after player who went on to prove himself to be a very popular and successful performer here at the Blues.
"Besides being a player capable of mixing it with the very best at the elite end of the game, Marc is a positive character with a great personality who has a skill-set that will undoubtedly ensure a successful career beyond the field of play. We all wish him well in everything he undertakes in the knowledge he is sure to approach life with the same degree of professionalism and intensity he offered throughout his impressive sporting career."
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.
The WRU officially unveiled the new pitch today in time for Wales to take on Australia in the first of the Dove Men Series autumn international matches this Saturday. Head Groundsman Lee Evans and colleague Craig Campbell reflect on the 15-week project and look ahead to a pitch perfect future at Millennium Stadium.