London Scottish back-row forward Ben Russell has announced his retirement from rugby due to a neck injury.
The 31-year-old hangs up his boots following a successful 13-year professional career which began at Saracens where he packed down against opposite number Lawrence Dallaglio on his competitive debut.
During his time at Saracens, Russell was also a key member of the England Sevens squad which secured a silver medal at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne and won the Hong Kong Sevens tournament that same year.
He moved to France in 2007, enjoying spells at Racing Metro and Marseille before joining London Welsh in 2010 where he played his rugby for two seasons.
Russell signed for London Scottish ahead of the 2012/13 season and made a total of 32 appearances for the Club.
He made just 14 appearances last season due to injury and after undergoing a neck operation in February with a view to playing a part in the 2014/15 campaign, Russell failed to make a full recovery, meaning the former England Under-18 cap had to call time on his career.
“I am obviously gutted but my body has told me it’s time to hang up my boots,” Russell said this week.
“I gave it a good five months to see if there would be any progression with my injury but after about three months it wasn’t getting any better and in my head I knew it was time to retire.”
He continued: “I have had 13 years of professional rugby and really enjoyed it.
“Winning the Hong Kong Sevens and Commonwealth Games in 2006 stand out as highlights as well as making my competitive debut against Lawrence Dallaglio.
“At London Scottish, beating Cornish Pirates away from home in my first season then beating London Welsh twice last season was fantastic.
“The progression London Scottish has made over the past couple of years has been immense and it has been great being part of that.
“I want to stay involved in rugby and I have just started coaching at the London Scottish Academy which is going really well.”
London Scottish Director of Rugby, Mike Friday, who coached Russell during his spell as England Sevens head coach, said: “It is a real shame for Ben but he has had a fantastic career and has been a model professional ever since I met him as a 19-year-old.
“I brought him into the England Sevens programme and he was an integral part of our success, particularly in 2006.
“It has been a pleasure to work with Ben and he will be greatly missed around the squad here at London Scottish.
“However I'm delighted he is coaching at our Academy and I also believe Ben has the character and temperament to consider a career as a referee.”