Road Safety Western Force club legend and inaugural player Matt Hodgson has today announced his retirement from professional rugby after 12 spectacular seasons with the Western Australian club.
The 35-year-old announced to his teammates yesterday that he would be hanging up the boots at the end of the season after 139 Super Rugby appearances in a career that has included three Nathan Sharpe Medals, four Geoffrey Stooke Force Man Awards and 11 Wallaby caps.
The hardnosed backrower started at openside flanker in the club’s inaugural match against the Brumbies in 2006 and has represented the blue jersey with distinction, bravery and unwavering commitment ever since, including four years as club captain from 2013-2016.
A favourite of the Sea of Blue, Hodgson says the decision was an emotional one but feels the time is right to hand the reigns over to the promising next generation coming through the club’s ranks.
“It is a privilege to be able to retire on my own terms while still playing the brand of rugby I’ve always strived to deliver. I hold the opportunity to play for my country and the [Road Safety] Western Force in the highest regard and I hope that I have always shown this through the way I have played.
“The last few years I have enjoyed being the Captain and being part of the coaching team at the Force. It has made my decision to retire from playing easier; as I know that I have many ways to contribute to the team without the broken bones and stitches.
“Thank you to every member of the Sea of Blue whose love and passion for rugby lifted me up in the hardest times and shared the joy of every high. No fans in any sport are as loyal and passionate as our Sea of Blue. We have done it hard but we have always done it together. It is because of you that I stayed in WA and have proudly made it my home for the future.
“I’m proud that over the last 12 years WA has become a new generation stronghold of rugby in this country. Our value and real contribution to the game is undeniable at a grassroots level through to the national level. I am excited to be continuing my investment in rugby in this state as I take up a role within the Force organisation moving forward.”
Road Safety Western Force Coach Dave Wessels says Hodgson’s service to the club and rugby in Western Australia cannot be overstated.
“In many ways ‘Hodgo’ is the life and soul of our club, which you can see in the way he throws his body around on the field.
“He’s been an incredible support to me and the rest of the team over the last few months, which I will always be very grateful for.”
Wessels’ also says that he is thrilled with the decision of Hodgson staying on at the club in a coaching role.
“We’re delighted that he’s agreed to join us in a coaching capacity next season and will add a huge amount to our group.”
Club captain and long-time teammate Ben McCalman expressed his gratitude for everything Hodgson has done for the club and himself personally as a leader.
“For me personally, ‘Hodgo’ has had a huge effect on my career and more recently has been incredibly supportive in the captaincy role.
“Matt has been an enormous part of this club and has brought so much passion and courage to the blue jersey.”
Matt Hodgson - Force Player No. 7
Position: Openside flanker
Super Rugby Debut: 2006 v Brumbies, Perth
Road Safety Western Force Caps: 139
Super Rugby Points: 95 (19 tries)
Test Debut: 2010 v Fiji, Canberra
Test Caps: 11
2002: Australian U21s
2004-05 & 2008: Australian Sevens
2005 & 2008: Australia A
2010: Australian Barbarians
2009-11: Australian Wallabies
2011: Rugby World Cup
2014: Australian Wallabies
Nathan Sharpe Medal - 2009, 2010, 2014
Geoffrey Stooke Force Man Award – 2006, 2007, 2010, 2013
Rugby Union Player’s Association Community Service Award - 2016