England captain Lewis Moody retires from Test rugby

Lewis Moody
Moody is one of 16 players to have won more than 70 England caps

England captain Lewis Moody has announced his international retirement after winning 71 caps.

The 2003 World Cup-winning flanker says it is the right time for England to move on after a disappointing World Cup campaign.

"I realised I might be making this decision before the World Cup started," Moody, 33, said.

"Even if they still wanted me to carry on, there's no way I would last another four years."

Moody continued: "If England want to start planning for a successful World Cup in four years time, it is my belief they should be appointing a new captain from February."

Of England's older generation, Mike Tindall and Nick Easter - both 33 - have led the side in Moody's absence over the past 18 months, although their own Test careers may also be drawing to a close.

Of the younger members in the squad, only Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley, 25, is currently skipper of his club - and lost his starting spot to veteran Steve Thompson during the World Cup.

Moody made his international debut in June 2001 against Canada and was part of England's Grand Slam and World Cup-winning squads in 2003.

He played in all seven matches in England's World Cup triumph in Australia, coming off the bench in the final against the hosts to win the line-out that led to Jonny Wilkinson's match-winning drop-goal.

He also featured in all seven matches at the 2007 World Cup, when England lost to South Africa in the final in Paris.

Moody, who was awarded the MBE after the 2003 World Cup triumph, was named England captain for the first time against France in the Six Nations in 2010.

Later that year he left his club side of 14 years, Leicester Tigers, to join Bath.

Playing against Scotland in the 2011 World Cup meant Moody became the 16th England player to make over 70 international appearances - in all he won 71 caps for England and three for the British and Irish Lions on their 2005 tour of New Zealand, including a Test against Argentina.

He scored nine tries for his country and, after his announcement, said: "It's a big decision to make. I feel emotional about making it but it's the right thing to do for me and for the England rugby squad.

"My time with England has been unbelievable, even if the last few weeks have not gone so well.

"It's only right for the team to move on. There will be changes, maybe in management and definitely in some of the match-day 22."

England manager Martin Johnson, also a former team-mate of Moody's with Leicester and England, paid tribute to the flanker.

He said: "Lewis has been a great servant to English rugby and has literally put his body on the line more times than he can probably remember.

"To play in two World Cup finals, then lead his country in a third campaign is a great testament to him. He will be missed on and off the field and, on behalf of everyone in the England squad - players, coaches and management - we wish him all the best for the rest of his career."

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