Assey calls time on career

Paul James, the last remaining Ospreys ‘original’ and a four-time Celtic League winner, has announced his retirement.

  • 232 appearances for the Ospreys, second in the all-time list
  • 4 x Championship titles and one EDF Energy Cup win
  • 66 Wales caps
  • 2 Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam

The 36-year old prop confirmed he is hanging up his boots on Boxing Day, almost a full 12 months since the last of his 232 games for the Ospreys, the second highest by any player in the region’s history, behind just Alun Wyn Jones on 234. 

A shoulder injury sustained last New Year’s Eve in a win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade led to surgery in January and having failed to recover, James has opted to call time on his distinguished playing career. His outstanding service to the Ospreys, and Welsh rugby, was recognised earlier this year when he was awarded a testimonial year.

Confirming his retirement, James said:

“I’m sad to say my time has come to an end. After two shoulder ops and a lot of rehab I’m afraid that my shoulder hasn’t recovered. I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me over my career and has helped me achieve everything I did, especially my wife, Louise, as she had to go through the highs and lows with me.

“I look back with no regret and loved every second of it. I will miss the banter with the boys but hope to get a new buzz out of dipping my toes into coaching.”

James, who has the player number 1 having worn that shirt in the region’s first-ever competitive fixture, against Ulster 15 years ago, has now played 232 games for the Ospreys, one of only five to have played more than 200 times.

He captained the Ospreys on 31 occasions, including the famous win over the 2006 touring Australians at the Liberty Stadium and was part of four championship winning teams (05, 07, 10, 12), also winning the EDF Energy Cup at Twickenham in 2008.

He left the Ospreys at the end of the 2011/12 season to join Bath, his final appearance of his first spell with the Ospreys the famous 30-31 win over Leinster in the PRO12 Final in Dublin.

He became only the third ever Ospreys centurion exactly five years after his debut in September 2008, against Connacht, and was the first to reach 150 caps for the region. At the time of his initial departure he was top of the all-time appearance list, on 180. He returned to the Ospreys in 2015, reclaiming the mantle in September last year when he passed Duncan Jones to make his 224th appearance. His total of 232 was bettered by Alun Wyn Jones at the end of November, the second row now two ahead on the list.

The last remaining squad member to have played professionally in the pre-regional era, having made 33 appearances for Neath at the start of the century James has also played 66 times for Wales.

Having made his Wales debut at the Racecourse in Wrexham in August 2003, against Romania, James traveled to Australia the following month as an unused squad member at the Rugby World Cup. Despite waiting six years for his next international cap, he has 66 caps for Wales, playing at the 2011 and 2015 World Cups and featuring in the 2012 Grand Slam and 2013 Championship successes.