For the Players
For the game

Will Skinner and Olly Kohn retire

July 5th, 2013

The Rugby Players’ Association (RPA) wishes Harlequins’ forwards Olly Kohn and Will Skinner the very best for the future following the announcement that they have been forced to retire from the game due to injury after distinguished careers with the London club.

RPA CEO Damian Hopley said: “It is very sad that Will and Olly have been forced to retire when they still had so much to offer. The RPA would also like to place on record our thanks to Olly Kohn for his magnificent service as an RPA Player Representative for the past 3 years. Olly has represented the players superbly and has taken seriously his role of making the players’ voice heard. He has always been vocal in driving forward player welfare issues and addressing concerns of players in the professional game.

“Olly is a perfect example of a player who has got the balance absolutely right – he has achieved so much with Harlequins, with his form also being rewarded by a first cap for Wales, while he has used his spare time productively to build up a successful business in the Jolly Hogg & Sausage. He has been a perfect role model, not only for young rugby fans following the game, but also for professional rugby players and he will be missed on the Players Board. However, if anyone is to be able to fill his sizeable boots, it’s his very capable replacement Mark Lambert!

“Will is equally as popular among the professional rugby group and his un-shirking commitment to both Harlequins and Leicester Tigers over the years has won him admiration from his peers as well as the rugby public. He has always been a respected voice of authority within the game and amongst his playing group and will be greatly missed by us all. He has worked very hard in preparing for life after rugby and we wish him the very best for the future as he embarks on a new chapter when he has recovered from his career-ending injury.”

Although Olly Kohn battled against injury last season, whilst undergoing exploratory surgery on his shoulder post-season, the injury was discovered to be more severe than first feared. The surgeon that undertook the procedure advised the 32-year-old lock forward to retire immediately.

Olly joined Harlequins from Bristol in July 2006 and made his debut in the pre-season friendly with ASM Clermont that summer. He has since made 139 appearances for the club and scored four tries.  He made his international debut for Wales in this year’s Six Nations Championship against Ireland.

Will Skinner hasn’t played first team rugby for Harlequins for a year due to a neck injury sustained during the early part of the 2012-13 season. Despite the best efforts of the player and club’s medical staff, the 29-year-old back row forward has been advised that he must not play again.

Will moved to Harlequins from Leicester Tigers also in summer 2006 and made his debut in the pre-season friendly with Clermont.  He went on to make 149 first team appearances, including captaining the club during the 08/09 and 09/10 seasons, and scored four tries. He represented England at Under 19 and 21 levels and played a key role in the England Saxons squad that won the Churchill Cup in 2007, he was appointed captain of the Saxons the following year.

Both players were members of the Harlequins squad that won the Amlin Challenge Cup in 2011 and the Aviva Premiership in 2012.

Harlequins Director of Rugby, Conor O’Shea said: “We are devastated that injury has forced both Olly and Will to retire. They have been, and will always be, remembered as true greats of this club and have inked their names indelibly into its history.

“Will has battled for the last year with his neck, however, Olly’s retirement has come about more suddenly for him and Harlequins,” O’Shea continued. “The club intends to keep both players involved in different capacities as part of its future plans. I have no doubt that, given the young talent that we have, both men will be valuable in mentoring our development players for years to come. Day-to-day we are going to miss their personalities greatly, but they will still be around the squad as the Club supports them with physiotherapy to alleviate painful aspects of their injuries, before helping them to focus on other areas post rugby.”

Commenting on his decision to retire Olly Kohn said: “I’m disappointed to have to retire as I thought I had a few more seasons to go. I will look back at my time in rugby, especially at Quins, with many fond memories. I feel very lucky to have been part of a fantastic club with a great set of players and coaches that have helped me achieve some massive highs in my career. It’s time for me to jump off the rugby rollercoaster and get stuck into the ‘real world’, whether that’s in pigs and sausages or wearing a suit, who knows!”

Confirming his decision to retire, Will Skinner said, “I’m sorry to have had to call it a day as a player. Every player is devastated when the decision to retire is taken out of his hands but I hope to maintain my strong relationship with the game and with Harlequins. Since joining the club in 2006 I have been lucky enough to have played a small part in its illustrious history. I have been incredibly lucky to be a part of such a great club and I would like to thank everyone who has helped me throughout my rugby career. I’m looking forward to whatever is next for me in the ‘real world’ – all I hope is that I enjoy it as much as I have my rugby career.”