Mears forced to retire by heart problem
Former England hooker Lee Mears has retired from rugby with immediate effect due to a heart condition, his Premiership club Bath announced on Monday.
Cardiac screening flagged up the problem and the 33-year-old Mears, who quit the test scene last year, felt he had no choice but to call time on his career with west country club Bath as well.
"There is a significant potential risk of developing further complications if Lee continues to perform the prolonged strenuous exercises required to be an elite rugby player," said a Bath statement.
"He has therefore been advised by a specialist to retire from professional rugby."
Mears won 42 caps in a seven-year England career that ended with him as a replacement on last year's tour of South Africa.
He featured in the 2007 and 2011 World Cups and was also capped during the British and Irish Lions series with the Springboks in 2009.
A one-club man, Mears made 268 appearances for Bath.
"This is not how I saw it ending but I feel enormously proud to have played for Bath so many times," Mears said.
"This will be a tough period, but the memories I have and the friends I have made over the years will be of huge support. Thank you to the club and to the supporters, I've loved every minute."
Bath head coach Gary Gold added: "Lee is a legend, pure and simple. His retirement will be felt by all of us at Bath and also by the supporters who have cheered him on over the years.
"The only thing that matters is to be healthy and if that means he stops playing, then that's the way it has to be."
Heart problems have led to the retirement of several British and Irish players in recent years, all of them front row forwards, including Ireland prop Simon Best and Wales counterpart Rhys Thomas.