Bedford Blues club captain and loosehead prop, Sean McCarthy has announced his retirement ahead of Saturday’s season closer against Bedfordshire rivals, Ampthill.
With over 170 caps in the Championship, McCarthy joined the Blues in the summer of 2017 from Jersey Reds and immediately put his stamp down on the Bedford front row.
Making 28 appearances during his debut campaign alone, he has gone on to become a staple of the Bedford pack, culminating in being awarded the club captaincy in July 2019.
Now though, McCarthy has decided to take a step back from rugby at the age of 30 to focus on other projects, not least property development.
“A few people I’ve spoken to said ‘when you know you know’ and coming back this year after a long time of not playing through COVID, I knew now was the right time”, said McCarthy.
“It was quite hard mentally and physically to go from not playing at all to ramping it up in six weeks to be back playing again. My heart wasn’t in it as it was before.”
“Once I realised that and it dawned on me that I wasn’t able to give the best performances, then it was time to hang up the boots.”
“I won’t go cold turkey on rugby, I’d love to stay involved here at Bedford in some regard. I don’t entirely know what that would look like, but I think if I was to just fade away and never touch a rugby ball again then it would be difficult.”
Saturday’s last hurrah for McCarthy will welcome in fans for the first time since the pandemic took hold in March 2020.
“My focus is to finish with a flourish and enjoy my final match in a local derby with crowds returning. The fans will certainly make a difference as we’ve really missed them this season.”
The Blues hierarchy have also been highly complimentary of their club captain despite disappointed to see him go, hope he sticks around to help the club in another capacity.
Director of Rugby, Mike Rayer said: “First and foremost, Sean has been a great asset to the Club on the pitch with his technical ability and game understanding.”
“He is also one of the most skilful players I’ve had at the Club with his ability to play in open field and has been a great asset for us in the way we play.
“On top of that he’s been an absolute pleasure to work with as captain over the last two seasons, and in particular during this COVID period, where he’s acted as conduit for the players in doing some great work behind the scenes.”
The final game of the season is sold out, and while there was confusion at the beginning of the week whether fans would be able to attend, the club confirmed that the original plans were going ahead.