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Josh Turnbull retires from playing career

First Team News | 15th April 2024

Josh Turnbull has retired from professional rugby with immediate effect following a career in which he has made 334 top-level appearances.

The versatile forward joined the Blue and Blacks from the Scarlets in 2014 and quickly established himself as an integral member of the first-team squad.

He played a key role as Cardiff lifted the 2018 European Challenge Cup, picked up the Peter Thomas Player of the Season award in 2021-22, and made his 200th appearance for the club last month.

However, that milestone appearance against Leinster will be Turnbull’s last as he reluctantly hangs up his boots.

The 36-year-old will now move into coaching with a position within the club’s academy set-up.

Speaking of the decision, Turnbull said: “It’s been a difficult decision to call time on my career, which has gone in the blink of an eye, but I am comfortable it is the right one for myself and my family.

“Reaching 200 appearances for Cardiff has been a huge motivator for me, and I was honoured to do that a few weeks ago at the Arms Park with so many friends and family in attendance.

“Rugby has given me so much - I have traveled the world, made incredible friends, and have so many great memories from my time both at Cardiff and the Scarlets.

“I am enormously grateful to everyone who has played a part in my journey, whether teachers, coaches, backroom staff, supporters, and of course my family.

“With close to 350 games of professional experience under my belt, I am now looking forward to the next chapter in my career, and I am very grateful to Cardiff for giving me an opportunity to continue coaching within the academy set-up.

“There is so much talent coming through in this region; you only need to look at the lads who have come through this year to see that, and I’m excited to pass on my experience.”

Turnbull has been one of the club’s most consistent performers since his move from Llanelli and, excluding a season where he underwent significant back surgery, has averaged 23 appearances up to the current campaign.

He is currently second in the BKT United Rugby Championship’s all-time appearance charts and had his sights set on John Muldoon’s record; however, his selfless physical approach has finally caught up with the talisman, who has struggled through injuries.

He is well prepared for a transition into coaching having enjoyed previous spells assisting Newcastle Emlyn, Scarlets Under-18s, and within the Cardiff Rugby pathway.

The 13-cap international is currently defence and lineout coach at Carmarthen Quins and most recently traveled to Parma with Wales Under-18s.

Cardiff Rugby chair Alun Jones has led the tributes to the 36-year-old and said: “Josh has been an absolute warrior for the club with 200 appearances over 10 seasons in blue and black.

“He has been one of the most consistent and durable players in one of the most physical positions, who has gone above and beyond for the club.

“A great professional and leader within the environment, and a tremendous person off the pitch. Our pathway players and structure will benefit hugely from his experience and insight.

“On behalf of everyone at the club, we congratulate Josh on a fantastic playing career and wish him all the very best as he continues his coaching career at the Arms Park.”

Cardiff Rugby head coach Matt Sherratt has worked with the versatile forward for five years and believes he will be a major asset to the club’s pathway and academy system.

He added: “Josh has been a great servant to Cardiff, making an enormous contribution both on and off the pitch.

“We were all delighted to see him make his 200th appearance for the club against Leinster and to play 334 competitive games in the professional era is no mean feat.

“He is a player who continually put his body on the line for the team and gave his absolute all whether on the training pitch or in a game. He has been a great professional and role model to our young players in terms of his commitment, diligence, work-rate, and selflessness.

“Josh and his family can be very proud of everything he has achieved in the game, and we now look forward to him taking the next steps in his coaching career within our academy and pathway set-up.”