Tom Wood retires after outstanding career with Northampton and England

Tom Wood, one of the outstanding forwards of his generation, has decided to retire after a career that brought him 50 England caps and a double title winning season with Northampton.
Wood will hang up his boots at the end of this season after years as the embodiment of Northampton’s rugby culture, leading by example and but for a toe injury could have been the man Stuart Lancaster chose to captain England when he took over as head coach after the 2011 Rugby World Cup debacle. That honour went to Chris Robshaw and Wood insists he was happy to see himself as “ first lieutenant” to the Harlequins captain.
Wood, who was on blood thinners for three months in 2020 after suffering a pulmonary embolism in a lung, said: “That hit my like a ton of bricks. I was back on a bike in a week or so but couldn’t play because I was on blood thinners. I still don’t know what caused it and I wasn’t even playing at that point. I have never had any issue since and it was a complete random occurrence.
“I feel incredibly blessed to have the career I have had and I don’t have any ill feelings to anyone or any regrets. I loved playing alongside Chris Robshaw who was the captain for the majority of my caps and we played 6 and 7. I have never coveted being captain and I was very privileged to do it a couple of times.”
Wood’s test career started with four wins in the 2011 Six Nations until Ireland stopped England from winning the Grand Slam in Dublin and while the Championship title was a welcome boost it did not herald World Cup success in New Zealand later that year.
Wood is a qualified tree surgeon and has set up a company with team mate Alex Waller which will now become his focus. “It has been a bit of side hussle for us but we are now officially joined up and will be sorting out our brand for a combination of joinery and tree surgery; “ he explained. “I am a full time redneck who turns up part time to play some rugby at the minute. I couldn’t sit in an office in a suit. I love being outside – tree surgery, wood working, hunting, fishing and archery
“This is the first time in my while career I have had time to reflect and retiring has forced me to look back and I vividly remember my debut in an East Midlands derby against Leicester on the opening day and I actually got man of the match. Then there is the month of rugby in 2014 when we beat Leicester in the semi-final, then won the European Challenge Cup against Bath in Cardiff and the Premiership final beating Saracens in a game which went to 100 minutes. That is the stand out month of my career – the peak of my personal and the team’s journey. Beating the All Blacks in 2012 with England is another.”
Wood started his career at Worcester before heading to Northampton where he has spent the last 12 seasons making 240 appearances and is hoping his last appearance can be in the Premiership final at Twickenham with Saints still to confirm their top four finish which could be achieved by winning the final league game at home to Newcastle on Saturday. “I am training as if I am going to be available for the final and score the winner. That’s the plan.”

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