Newcastle Falcons fly-half Toby Flood has retired from professional rugby.
The 36-year-old former England international featured in a World Cup final and won three Premiership titles during his 17-year career.
Flood will remain at Kingston Park as a kicking and skills coach while also studying for a business Master’s degree at the University of Cambridge.
“Dean Richards [Newcastle’s director of rugby] and I discussed the idea a little bit towards the end of last season, and as time went on the way my body was, and the fact I was going away to university for parts of the year – it just seemed to make sense,” said Flood, who played 141 times during his two spells with the Falcons.
After an 18-year career which saw him starring for club and country, Toby Flood has retired from playing professional rugby.
— Newcastle Falcons (@FalconsRugby) September 6, 2021
Flood claimed his three Premiership crowns during his 119 appearances at Leicester Tigers, and also enjoyed a spell with French club Toulouse from 2014 to 2017.
He made 60 caps for England, was a part of Brian Ashton’s side that lost to South Africa in the 2007 World Cup final. He also played 26 Six Nations encounters between 2006 and 2013.
Reflecting on his career, Flood said: “It was alright – I think it went okay! I made my first-team debut against Wasps in 2004 and we got pumped 83-10 away to Leicester live on TV in my second game – and then my last professional appearance was a big defeat away to Exeter live on TV just to book-end it nicely!
“It’s obviously not the way you would want it to finish, but there were a lot of good times in between.
“A professional rugby career just flies by, and it’s mad to think this was going to be my 18th pre-season. I know a lot of people who haven’t been anywhere near that lucky, and I’m incredibly grateful to have had such a long stint.
“There’s a lot of pleasure and satisfaction from every stop on that journey, and too many people to thank. The good wins are the ones that create the best memories and the bad losses are the ones that tend to stick in your mind more – but it was fun while it lasted.”
Looking to further his coaching and academic ambitions, Flood said: “We had a conversation at the club about how best to move forward, and we decided to go down the route of me working as a kicking and skills coach.
“It’s still good to be around the boys and nice to have that transfer within the club, and the other good thing is I’ve still got the university stuff going on in the background.
“It’s all happened quite quickly in the end and I was still keen to play, but the more I thought about it and chatted it through with Dean, it just became more and more obvious that this was the best solution. We’ve got a load of good young players coming through at the Falcons, and if I can help facilitate them as a coach then I think that’s a positive result.
“I’ll still play a few games for Cambridge University depending on how the body is, and I think that’s quite a nice way to finish up as a player along with my studies and my coaching.
“I’m enjoying getting into the coaching side of things.