Pat Lambie reveals how he arrived at the decision to quit rugby

Racing 92's South African fullback Pat Lambie leaves the pitch after being injured following a tackle during the 2018 European Champions Cup final rugby union match between Racing 92 and Leinster at the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao on May 12, 2018.
Racing 92's South African fullback Pat Lambie leaves the pitch after being injured following a tackle during the 2018 European Champions Cup final rugby union match between Racing 92 and Leinster at the San Mames Stadium in Bilbao on May 12, 2018.
Image: GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP

For Pat Lambie‚ the time it took for him to recover from concussion-related injuries informed his decision to retire at the age of 28.

Lambie‚ who represented the Springboks in 56 Tests between 2010 and 2016‚ was forced to leave the game because of repetitive concussions and the ensuing symptoms.

One of the most infamous ones he suffered was against Ireland at Newlands in 2016 when he collided with Ireland's South African-born loose-forward CJ Stander.

Lambie missed the bulk of that disappointing season with the Springboks and the Super Rugby side the Sharks.

He also suffered another concussion the following year when he collided with a team-mate in a Super Rugby match for the Sharks.

In an interview with East Coast Radio‚ Lambie said the tough decision to put his heath first had to be made in light of his difficulties recovering from head knocks.

Lambie said he suffered a head knock against Munster in April last year and the effects of that injury remained with him.

“I had a concussion on December 30‚ 2017 and from there I had 40 days of post concussion symptoms and even when I was playing‚ I didn't realise it at the time but I wasn't feeling at my best.

"Since the knock in April‚ it's almost nine months later‚ and I'm still experiencing symptoms and I guess it made the decision a little bit easier‚” Lambie said.

“I injured my knee and I thought ‘oh great maybe it's a blessing in disguise’ because it would give me a lot of time to get my knee and my head right.

"But the longer my knee rehab went on‚ the longer my symptoms lingered for and the more appointments I had with neurologists here in France.

"It got to the point where I was sent to different specialists and the consensus was that it was better to stop my career considering the length of time it takes me to shake off my symptoms after these head knocks.”

Lambie‚ who played all of his South African provincial and Super Rugby for the Sharks in Durban since his breakthrough year in 2010‚ said they tried everything to ensure he was back on the rugby field without the residual effects of the head knocks he suffered.

He played a starring role as a 20-year-old when he helped the Sharks win the Currie Cup that year when they beat Western Province at Kings Park.

“We've tried everything before coming to this decision. There's some medication that I've been put on that I'm still using. We've tried everything from neck treatment to treatment for my jaw.

"It's been a long journey and the only thing that's left for me to do is to continue with medication‚” Lambie said.

Lambie will be staying in France to continue his rehabilitation with his club Racing 92.

Lambie though does have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Environmental Management that he can fall back on but also said coaching can't be ruled out as a mid to long-term goal.

Lambie last played for the Springboks on November 26‚ 2016 in a 27-13 defeat to Wales in Cardiff.

“Things are a little bit up in the air now because it's only been a few days after the decision.

"I'm going to be here in France until the end of February to sort out medical appointments and all the relevant admin.

"There's also the new rehabilitation I need to finish with the club here at Racing‚” Lambie said.

“I'm not quite convinced in regards with the coaching route but I'm an open book at the moment. I'd really love to give back to the game in some ways but I'm not exactly sure how at the moment.”

X