RUGBY is a sport that takes its toll on the fittest of athletes, but for one Launceston player, his latest injury has forced him to hang up his boots for good, writes Suzanne Cleave.

Kieron Lewitt sustained a serious injury to his knee ligaments in the final home game of last season, and unfortunately, his recovery hasn’t been as successful as he had hoped.

The 30-year-old fly half was also injured in 2010, and the combination of injuries forced him to miss playing for two seasons.

“I really don’t want to get injured. It’s a bit gutting but it feels like the right decision,” he said.

Lewitt started his rugby career at Launceston when he was five-years-old. He stayed at the club until he was 16, then, after starting school in Bristol, he signed for Bath for two years.

He played in the Premiership with Bath on a couple of occasions, and played for England Under 16s, 18s and 19s. He travelled to South Africa in 2005 to take part in the Under 19s World Cup.

He had a short stint on loan to Launceston, before going travelling and playing rugby in America. On his return home, Lewitt played for Canterbury and then returned to Launceston in 2009. He has remained with the club ever since, as he said “through thick and thin.”

Lewitt has seen the club rise to Championship level and now, as it lingers precariously at the bottom of National 2 South.

News of his retirement will come as a blow to many of the club’s supporters, who were eagerly awaiting the return of their number 10, along with club officials and other players.

“I’ve spoken to the chairman and a couple of the lads. Most of the guys I played with aren’t around any more. I think they knew it was coming but I’ve had lots of nice messages from the boys, they’ve been really good. I needed a bit of space to make that decision, but I think it’s the right decision — my body’s not up to it any more. I can’t put my other half, Hannah, and her family through it again.”

His attention will turn to family later this year, when he and Hannah get married.

“I’m going to have a bit of time away from the club, have a bit of time with Hannah and be married and go on honeymoon and have a bit of life for a while, and maybe in the future I’ll be up for coming down and helping out.

“It’s been 25 years of solid rugby, with a few intervals. I’ve had some serious injuries over the years. Now I’m getting older I tend to feel it.”

The decision is somewhat bittersweet, as the Launceston club has a special place in Lewitt’s heart.

“I love the place, I always have done. When I got the chance to go out on loan when I was at Bath, I was hoping it would be to Launceston.

“The last six years have been the most enjoyable of my rugby playing life. It’s a bit sad what’s going on this year but hopefully they can turn it around and the club spirit will shine through. This whole season has just been an uphill struggle, but hopefully we can level out. It’s going to be difficult from the position we’re in, but I hope we can plateau and sort it out for next season.”

Lewitt, who is a partner in the Beach House at Widemouth Bay, is also preparing for the spring re-opening of the establishment, so he will have plenty of things to keep him busy.

He hopes to be at the club on Saturday, when the Cornish All Blacks take on Worthing. “Thanks to the club and supporters and thanks for all the help over the years. I’ll definitely see everybody at the club.”