Tom Youngs has confirmed his retirement from professional rugby.
The 35-year-old retires after making 215 appearances for Leicester Tigers, as well as gaining 28 Test caps for England and three for the British & Irish Lions.
"I am so grateful to all of the team-mates that have helped me along the way, coaches who have taught me so much and fans who have been there for me, cheering us on."
A Premiership title winner in 2012/13 and Anglo-Welsh Cup winner in 2016/17 with Tigers, Youngs retires in second place on the club’s all-time list for appearances as captain with 98. Only Martin Johnson has led Leicester Tigers on more occasions.
Speaking about the decision to retire, Youngs said: “I had always planned around this season being my last and I am comfortable with the timing of it now.
“I have no regrets and, looking back, am proud of what I have achieved at the only club I ever wanted to play for.”
A second-generation Tiger, Youngs is the son of former Leicester scrum-half Nick Youngs and spent his career playing alongside brother, Ben, at club and international level.
Together, the father and sons have made more than 630 first-team appearances for the club.
On his family connection to the club, Youngs added: “There has always been a connection to the club, with dad playing for Tigers, and I have memories from an early age of hearing about what that was like for him and what it meant to him.
“To be able to do what I have done, alongside my brother and after my dad, is just magical. I couldn’t have written it any better.”
Norfolk born, Youngs played his junior rugby with Holt and North Walsham before joining the Leicester Tigers Academy.
During his time there, Youngs enjoyed a decorated age-grade career with England honours at Under-16, Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20s levels before playing internationally on the World Rugby Sevens circuit.
In addition to Tigers, he represented Bedford and Nottingham Rugby in senior rugby.
Looking back on his formative years in the game, Youngs said: “Growing up, I just loved it. Pretty simple, to be honest, it was just something I knew I wanted to keep doing at any level.
“Playing with my mates at Gresham’s School, Holt and North Walsham was my favourite part of the week, which I was able to turn into a career for Tigers, for England and the Lions.
“I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do that.”
Youngs made his senior debut in December 2006, away to Northampton Saints in the EDF Energy Cup, before making his Premiership debut against London Irish a fortnight later, on Boxing Day, at the Madejski Stadium.
He scored his first Tigers try in his second season in the first-team, away to Leeds Carnegie.
During the 2008/09 Cup competition, Tom and brother Ben started a senior Tigers game together for the first time in an away win over Bath.
In early 2009, Youngs made his first appearance at hooker in an ‘A’ League win over Gloucester before spending time at Nottingham on loan, building experience in the front row.
Youngs finished the 2011/12 season as a domestic Cup winner and appeared as a replacement in the Premiership Final defeat to Harlequins at Twickenham – his first experience of the league decider.
He was called into the England Saxons squad ahead of the 2012/13 campaign and then received his first Test cap in a win over Fiji in November 2012.
Youngs started all four Tests in that autumn and made his Six Nations debut in 2013.
The 2012/13 season ended on a high for Youngs, and Tigers, with the club winning the Premiership title and the front-rower being named Premiership Player of the Year.
In the summer of 2013, Youngs was selected to tour with the British & Irish Lions and played in all three Tests against Australia.
He made his World Cup debut in 2015, joining Ben as just the second pair of brothers to represent England at the tournament alongside fellow Leicester Tigers duo Rory and Tony Underwood.
Youngs made his 100th Tigers appearance in December 2015 and was appointed club captain ahead of the 2016/17 campaign.
He led the club to Anglo-Welsh Cup success in 2017 and made his 100th starting appearance for the club in May of the same year.
During the early stages of the 2017/18 campaign, he made a 100th Premiership appearance.
In 2019, Youngs made a 51st appearance as captain of Leicester Tigers to move into second place on the club’s all-time list behind Martin Johnson.
His 200th club appearance was against Sale Sharks in January 2021, becoming the 95th player in Leicester Tigers history to reach the milestone.
Youngs stepped down from the role of captain ahead of the 2021/22 season, with Ellis Genge appointed to replace his fellow front-rower.
Discussing his senior career, Youngs said: “It was never easy, but I loved that. I think it suited me, I think the person I am and wanted to be was helped by doing it my way.
“Not just on the pitch, but off it as well, I am so grateful to all of the team-mates that have helped me along the way, coaches who have taught me so much and fans who have been there for me, cheering us on.
“I want to make special mention of all those who I have worked with at Leicester Tigers, led by Chairman Peter Tom, who has been a great supporter of me and my family on and off the field.”
After appearing for the club in the 2021/22 pre-season fixtures at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, Youngs took indefinite leave from the game for personal reasons and has not featured during the current campaign.
“Most of all, I want to thank my family for all that they have done to help me achieve what I have been able to do throughout my career,” he said.
“My mum, my dad, my brother and all of my extended family, I am so lucky to have them.
“Finally, to my wife Tiff and daughter Maisie, I am lucky to have you alongside me and would not be where I am without you. Thank you both.”
Youngs’ retirement from the game is effective immediately.
Date of birth: January 28, 1987
Junior clubs: Holt / North Walsham
Tigers debut: December 12, 2006 v Northampton Saints
Tigers appearances: 215 (170+45)
Tigers points: 115 (23 tries)
Honours: England Under-16, England Under-18, England Under-19, England Under-20, England Sevens, England Men’s (28 Test caps), British & Irish Lions (3 Test caps)