Xavier Rush: Cardiff Blues defence coach and former captain leaves

Xavier Rush

Cardiff Blues' defence coach and former captain Xavier Rush is leaving the club to pursue a career away from rugby.

Rush, 35, joined the Blues in 2005 and helped the Welsh side win the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup.

The eight-times capped New Zealand international moved into a coaching role after he was forced to retire because of a neck injury in 2012.

"I enjoyed a wonderful time playing for the Blues and winning the two cups was a real highlight," said Rush.

"I also learned a great deal from my year working as part of the coaching team at the Blues.

"However, I feel now is the right time for me to step away from the game after being involved with professional rugby for 16 years."

Rush captained the Blues and won the Player of the Year award in his first season in the Welsh capital.

The big number eight, who was renowned for his physical style, was part of the Blues side that reached the Heineken Cup semi-finals at the Millennium Stadium in 2009.

He signed a two-year contract with Ulster rugby in 2010, but did a U-turn and decided to stay with the Blues, where he took up a coaching role in the summer of 2012.

Rush suffered the neck injury that ended his playing career in the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Leinster in 2012.

He now plans to build a career in property development.

Chairman Peter Thomas paid tribute to the New Zealander's influence during his time at the Blues.

"There is no doubting that Xavier Rush made a huge contribution to Cardiff Blues since arriving from New Zealand in 2005," said Thomas.

"He was an incredibly physical and powerful player who would always put the team on the front foot.

"On behalf of everyone at Cardiff Blues I would like to thank him for his contribution and we wish him and his young family well for the future. He will always be welcome back at the Arms Park."