Following the news that Rhiwbina’s Sam Warburton took the decision to retire from rugby last week at the age of just 29, tributes have been pouring in for the former Wales and Lions captain, writes Alys Jones.
The Guardian’s Alex Bywater congratulates Sam on his ‘glittering’ career, and notes that he ‘will go down as one of the best Welsh players in history’.
Sad day hearing my brother hanging the boots up. A true professional and leader. Proud to have played with you and honoured to call you my captain. I still got your back brother 👊🏼 @samwarbs pic.twitter.com/PgAqPWKW1i
— George North (@George_North) July 18, 2018
In The Independent, Jack de Mendez describes Sam as ‘the most successful Lions captain in the history of the team’, reflecting on his impressive record.
Elsewhere, Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill comments on Sam’s success and selflessness: “He is a world-class player and person and was more concerned about letting myself and the Cardiff Blues family down rather than his immediate future.”
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) July 18, 2018
Wales and Lions coach Warren Gatland also praised Sam’s commitment to the game: “He is an outstanding rugby player and he has brought so much to the game on and off the pitch. He finishes with a record that he should be extremely proud of and should look back on his career with huge pride.”
The Evening Standard’s Dan Jones has high praise for Sam, naming him a ‘a defining player of his decade’, as well as ‘a world-class openside flanker, a pretty tasty blindside and a bloke who always put team before ego’.
Am gutted @samwarburton_ has retired. Since he first came into the team, I’ve loved watching him play. Able to perform at the very highest level and always led by example. An absolute Welsh great. #DiolchWarby #ThanksWarby pic.twitter.com/CJQwzYwUgE
— Attacking Scrum – Welsh Rugby Podcast (@AttackingScrum) July 18, 2018
Alex Lowe of The Times quotes Sam himself, who fondly remembers dreaming of his future career whilst growing up in Rhiwbina:
“Since I first played aged 10 at Llanishen Fach Primary School, then Whitchurch High School and Rhiwbina Juniors RFC, I always dreamed of playing for my hometown club the Cardiff Blues, Wales and the British and Irish Lions. To look back on my career, I’m extremely proud of what I managed to achieve. There are so many people who helped me along the way from schoolteachers, coaches, friends and family. I thank you so much for supporting my dreams and aspirations. I hope they too can take some pride from my career.”
On Twitter, fans, clubs and fellow players have shared their tributes to Sam Warburton using #ThanksWarby.