Cape Town - Leicester
Tigers and Argentina prop Marcos Ayerza has announced his retirement
from professional rugby after 11 seasons at Welford Road.
Ayerza joined Tigers in 2006 from the Cardinal Newman club in
Argentina and went on to become one of the world's leading front-rowers
in nearly 250 games with the club and in 66 Test appearances.
As a Tiger, Ayerza made his 200th starting appearance in the opening
home game of the 2016/17 season and has played in 246 first-team games
as part of a squad that won four Premiership titles - he played in
Premiership Finals in six successive years at Twickenham. He also played
in two European Cup Finals and has been part of two Anglo-Welsh
Ayerza received the club's Outstanding Service award at the end of
the 2013/14 season and was named Player of the Year at the supporters'
awards in 2014/15 when he also enjoyed a testimonial year, during which
he played for both sides in a match between Tigers and Argentina as they
fine-tuned their World Cup preparations.
The 34-year-old retires with immediate effect. He made his final
Tigers appearance in the win over Harlequins at Welford Road in November
Tigers chairman Peter Tom CBE said: "Marcos has been an outstanding
representative of the club on and off the field in more than 10 years at
"He has been at the very heart of the Tigers squad for the last 11
seasons and continually worked hard on his game while also assisting
those around him.
"Marcos has had the respect of team-mates and rivals around the rugby
world, as well as from the pundits and journalists who follow the game
closely. He has been without doubt one of the leading players in his
position in the world game.
"The affection in which he is held here is evident in his interaction
with supporters at Welford Road and in the support for his testimonial
events as well as from within the playing squad.
"We wish Marcos and his family well for the future. They will always be part of the Tigers Family and welcome at Welford Road."
Ayerza played in two U21 World Cups before making his Test debut for
Argentina against South Africa in December 2004 and collected a bronze
medal in the 2007 Rugby World Cup as well as playing in the following
two tournaments and in the Pumas' early campaigns in the Rugby
Championship alongside Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
"I have been extremely proud to represent Leicester Tigers and
Argentina for so many seasons and enjoyed every minute of that long
journey," Ayerza said after being advised to end his playing career due
to an injury in his back.
"Leicester Tigers is an amazing club and I have been very fortunate
to play here for the last 11 seasons, playing in so many big occasions
and with so many great players.
"It is very sad when an injury suddenly finishes your career but I
can only be thankful to God first to have allowed me to experience this
great journey, taking me by his hand.
"Also I want to thank everyone who was next to me all the way: my
parents, for making me play this amazing game; my great wife Mercedes
and daughters who were always there in the good and not so good times;
the coaches, physios, conditioners, doctors, staff, supporters and
everyone involved in every team that I was lucky enough to be part of.
"I will take with me many great memories experienced by playing this
great game of rugby but more importantly the best thing to take with me
is all those great people I met on this journey along the way.
"I'll miss a lot but it is time to face new challenges in my life,
turn over the page, as hard as that is, and I wish the Tigers all the
very best for the future."