Warriors loosehead prop Callum Black has announced that he will retire from playing at the end of the current season.
Black, 35, has made 103 appearances for Warriors in two spells at Sixways having played 145 times for Ulster Rugby in between.
He joined Warriors’ 100 Club in the opening match of this season against London Irish at Sixways in November and made his most recent appearance as a replacement against Leicester Tigers ten days ago.
“From the age of 14 I knew I wanted to do whatever it took to try and become a professional rugby player,” Black said.
“I never would have thought I would go on to play over 100 games for two great clubs. I feel very privileged and grateful for the opportunities I have had through rugby, it has given me so much and moulded me into the person I am today.
“I would never say I was the most talented player but I tried to play each game as if it was my last and leave it all on the pitch.
“To all the lads I’ve played with over the years it’s been an absolute pleasure both on and off the pitch, memories that I’ll never forget. I’ll miss the pre match buzz, the banter we shared and enjoying a post match beer in the changing room after a hard-fought win.
“I owe a lot to my parents for sacrificing their time and weekends driving me to rugby pitches all over the country when I was younger. To Andrew Stanley for giving me that first opportunity by letting me come over to the Worcester Academy from Hartpury.
“Also a special mention for the late John Brain who believed in me and gave me my first shot in the first team. To finish my career with Worcester is special to me and I thank Solly for having the faith in me to sign me.
“I hope to see Worcester fulfil its potential as a top six side and fight for silverware in the very near future, for the legend that put the club where it is today, Cecil Duckworth. What a special man he was and what a pleasure to have known him.
“The pandemic has made me appreciate even more so the presence of family, friends and supporters on match day, so thank you to all that have supported me during my career.
“Rugby comes with a lot of highs and lows and most importantly I couldn’t have done it without the support of my wife Lucy and our two girls Orla and Tillie, my biggest fans whether we win or lose. I hope I have made them proud and it feels the right time to hang the boots up and spend more time with my family.”
During an illustrious career Black represented Emerging Ireland and played for Ireland at every age group from Under-18s to Under-21s. He was part of the Ulster squad that reached the 2012 Heineken Cup final and a member of the Warriors’ squad that won the Championship title in 2011.
Like his Warriors team-mate Matt Cox, who announced his retirement on Monday, Black has already made plans for his future away from rugby by setting up Guilt Trip Coffee and Donuts with his front-row colleague Nick Schonert. As well as having two shops in Worcester, Guilt Trip has one in Broadway and six in Northern Ireland.
“During my time at Ulster I started to explore the idea of starting my own business while still playing, this is when myself and Darren Cave opened Guilt Trip,” Black said.
“This is something I am very proud of and it gave me a focus away from rugby during my playing days and that balance of planning for the future.
“During my time back with Worcester we have opened three stores over here with my good pal Sharky involved now also. With the workload of expanding the business and added pressure it’s the right time for us to focus on the business and for us as a family to move back to Belfast. So I’ll be sad to leave but excited by the next chapter.”
Black retires with the best wishes of all at Warriors, having first arrived at Sixways from Hartpury College.
“We wish Callum all the best for the future. He’s had a long and very good career both here and with Ulster,” said Warriors Head Coach Jonathan Thomas.
“He’s always been a top, top scrummager. He’s never taken a backward step in that department.
“He’s served Warriors well and he’s a good old-fashioned character who has brought a lot to the team.”
Black was brought back to Sixways by Warriors Director of Rugby Alan Solomons who has also appreciated his commitment and loyalty to the club.
“Callum, or The Diesel as I call him, is a Worcester lad through and through and it has been great that he can bring the curtain down on his career here at Sixways,” Solomons said.
“Callum is a top-class scrummaging loosehead who has made an invaluable contribution in his time here at the club.
“We wish him all the best for the future and can assure him that he will always be very welcome here at Sixways.”