Ken Owens announces retirement on medical advice after career with Scarlets, Wales, British and Irish Lions


Ken Owens has announced his retirement from rugby on medical grounds, after a hugely successful career representing Scarlets, Wales and the British and Irish Lions.

The 37-year-old hooker has not played this season due to a long-term back injury, and last played for Scarlets in April 2023.

He captained Wales for the first time during the 2023 Six Nations, returning after a year out with a back injury, and retires having picked up 91 Test caps for his country.

Owens represented the Lions in the 2017 drawn series vs the All Blacks in New Zealand and 2021 series defeat to South Africa behind closed doors. He captained the Lions in a tour match vs the Blues in 2017.

Owens steps away from the sport due to a long-term back injury, having played for Wales 91 times

He played 274 times for the Scarlets, captaining them to the Pro12 title in 2017 and a European Cup semi-final in 2018. He also played for Wales at three Rugby World Cups.

“Reluctantly, I am announcing my retirement from rugby. Not playing has been challenging, but the time is right to follow medical advice and hang up my boots,” Owens said.

“Had I written the script there would have been one more game for Wales, for the Scarlets and ultimately Carmarthen Athletic. A chance to sign off and thank everyone involved. It was not to be. It might not be the dream ending but my career has been more than I could have dreamt of.

Ken Owens looks on during the British and Irish Lions training session at St Peter's College in Johannesburg, South Africa. Picture date: Monday July 5, 2021.
Owens represented the British and Irish Lions on two tours in 2017 and 2021

“Whilst part of me wishes I could have done more, I am well aware that if you had told me as a kid I would be fortunate enough to experience what I have, to have worked with and played with the people I have and taken the pleasure I have from this amazing game, I wouldn’t have believed you.

“My only professional club, the Scarlets, believed in me and I hope my loyalty over 19 years has repaid the faith you showed.

“To have played 91 times for Wales is an honour I can never fully describe. To be a Lion…lost for words.”

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