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'A hell of a ride' comes to an end for former Munster and Ulster back-rower Nick Williams

The number eight has announced his retirement from rugby at 36.

Nick Williams playing for Cardiff Blues against Edinburgh in a Guinness Pro14 game back in February.
Nick Williams playing for Cardiff Blues against Edinburgh in a Guinness Pro14 game back in February.
Image: Craig Watson/INPHO

NICK WILLIAMS HAS retired after 16 years of professional rugby.

The 36-year-old number eight, who spent the last four seasons with Cardiff Blues, made the announcement today.

Williams had been hoping to bid farewell on the pitch, but those plans were scuppered when the season was paused in March by the ongoing pandemic.

The Auckland native was a European Challenge Cup winner in 2018 during a spell in Wales that amounted to 77 appearances and 13 tries.

“It’s sad not to have had one last run out at the Arms Park but with Covid-19, and everything that has come with it, there have been much bigger things to worry about. It is what it is,” he said.

“I have been blessed to play this game for so long and could never have imagined I would be a professional for 16 years and travel to so many brilliant places around the world.

“When I arrived in Cardiff, I knew this would be my last club and I have tried to make the most out of every single minute. It has been a really special time and the welcome my family received has been unbelievable.

“Winning the European Challenge Cup a couple of years ago is an obvious highlight but I will also just miss the day to day and being with the boys around the place.

“I am so grateful and have nothing but love for everyone at the Arms Park, from team-mates and coaches, to the brilliant staff and sponsors, who have also been great to me, and of course the awesome fans. It has been a hell of a ride and I’m grateful to all the teams I have been part of.” 

After beginning his career in his native New Zealand with the Blues and North Harbour, Williams moved to Europe in 2008. Two seasons each with Munster and Aironi were followed by a four-year spell at Ulster, where the powerful ball-carrier won the 2012-13 Pro12 Player of the Season award.

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nick-williams-before-the-game Williams joined Cardiff Blues after four seasons with Ulster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“If I could carry on playing then I would but the game has taken its toll and my wife has already sacrificed so much,” he added. “I’m now looking forward to the next chapter with my family.

“We are settled here now, this is our home and I’m looking forward to sharing a beer with some of the supporters on the terrace when we get back to the Arms Park.”

Paying tribute to Williams, Cardiff Blues head coach John Mulvihill said: “Nick has been an enormous figure for us both on and off the field and will be missed by all of us at the Arms Park.

“His qualities on the pitch have always spoken for themselves – he is a big and physically imposing player but also possesses a quality skill set that defies his size and is very good over the ball.

“What people don’t always see is the leadership and cultural drive that he brings to our environment each and every day. He has been a great servant to Cardiff Blues and has had a major influence on the entire squad.

“We now wish Nick and has family all the very best for the future and look forward to welcoming them back to the Arms Park when some kind of normality returns.”

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Paul Dollery

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