Tom May celebrates winning the Powergen Cup in April 2004 alongside team mates Jamie Noon and Dave Walder (Getty Images)

Falcons legend Tom May to retire at end of season

Friday 9 January 2015

Welsh club captain to call time on 17 year career in the summer

Ahead of the visit of London Welsh to Kingston Park this Sunday, Exiles team captain Tom May has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of the 2014/15 season.

Making his professional debut for Newcastle Falcons in March 1999, May went onto make 267 appearances for the club, scoring 66 tries, during a 10-year spell at Kingston Park.

During his time on Tyneside May helped the club win two domestic cups, crossing the try line twice in a 30-27 win over Harlequins in the 2001 Tetley’s Bitter Cup final, before returning to the Twickenham turf three years later when Newcastle sealed victory in the Powergen Cup against Sale Sharks.

He left Newcastle in 2009, following a season where his performances in the fly half shirt played a instrumental role in the club registering it’s record number of six consecutive Aviva Premiership victories, to join French giants RCT Toulon.

May marked his first season in France by reaching the Amlin Challenge Cup final and the semi-finals of the Top 14. After two years he returned to England and Franklin’s Gardens, where he made 53 appearances, scoring eight tries, over two seasons before joining London Welsh in 2013, who he led to promotion from the Green King IPA Championship last season.

Commenting on his decision to retire at the end of the season, Tom May said: “It’s a tough decision to make because I’ve been playing for quite a while and it’s what I’ve grown up knowing, so there’s a certain amount of fear that goes with making that decision but also a huge amount of excitement.

“I’ve been lucky to play for some really great clubs which have given me a huge amount of opportunities - Newcastle, where it all started, Toulon, Northampton and then having the opportunity to try and create something with London Welsh in terms of getting out of the Championship and then playing this season in the Premiership.

“This season hasn’t gone as we would have hoped but I’ve really enjoyed working with the guys at London Welsh. I’ve enjoyed been part of a group led by Justin [Burnell] but I know for a fact that I can’t keep on going for another year.

“People say ‘you’re a long time retired’ and you are, but if you’re waking up in the morning and you’re struggling then you know that’s the time to retire, however difficult it may be.

“Most people would point to international caps as being the highlight of a player’s career and indeed they were. I didn’t get capped till I was 30 and I’d worked very hard for 11-12 years to get there, but winning something with your mates, who you work with day in, day out, is something truly special and I’ve managed to do that three times. Those moments are ultimately what you do it all for.

“As for the future, it’s hard to turn your back on something that’s been such a big part of your life for so long, so I’ve got my own business Everything for Rugby, which is geared at grassroots rugby, I’m exploring different avenues in the media world and I’m doing some player management. Luther Burrell and Lee Dickson are two of the players I look after and it’s exciting and interesting. It’s good to be able to try and help them.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who worked very hard and gave all he had. I wasn’t one of those guys with an abundance of skill or was unbelievably rapid, I’ve just worked really hard and that’s something I can be proud of looking back, that I gave it as good a shot as I could.”

Newcastle Falcons chairman Semore Kurdi said: “Tom was a loyal servant to the Falcons for ten years, playing in some of the club’s biggest occasions and always giving 100% effort. He was a huge fans favourite and I am pleased that he will have a final opportunity to run out at Kingston Park this weekend."

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