James Phillips hasn’t made an appearance for Sale Sharks this season, after sustaining a double fracture of his jaw in a pre-season game with Benetton Treviso. He quickly underwent surgery in an attempt to repair the damage, but has now announced he won't be returning to action and is therefore calling time on his career in professional Rugby Union.
Phillips, 34, who represented England at under 16 and under 18 levels, underwent the corrective surgery as planned. And a return to action was very much on the cards. But, since having the operation, Philips noticed he was experiencing bouts of dizziness and haziness alongside headaches, which he couldn’t seem to shake.
Sale and Philips decided the best course of action was to have further scans and tests, but this revealed that the issue was more serious than anyone first thought, leaving the former Bath man to curtail his playing career on medical grounds. So, Sale Sharks, who Phillips signed for in 2018, were to be his final club.
Speaking to Sale Sharks’ official website, Phillips said, “I’m absolutely gutted, to be honest, that my career has been cut short, but I’ve known for a little while that this was likely to be the end.
“I can’t remember too much about the incident in the Treviso game, but I’ve watched it back since. I got my head in the wrong place in a tackle and took a knee to the jaw.
“After the operation, I thought I’d be back playing within four or five weeks, but then I started getting headaches and feeling dizzy and groggy all the time. I had some scans and tests, and it was clear that it was more serious than we thought at first.
“It’s hard to take, but I’ve loved every minute of my time at Sale Sharks. The coaches, the players and the staff at the club have made me feel so welcome, and the supporters have always been brilliant with me.
“The last few months have been really difficult for me, but I’ve had fantastic support from the club, but more importantly from my wife and my two girls. I don’t know how I’d have got through it without them, so I want to say a big thank you.”
Phillips managed to accrue nearly three hundred games as a professional, with a career spanning fifteen years, from 2006 to 2021. He registered over one hundred games for hometown club Bristol, where he started his career, over a couple of stints. He also represented the likes of London Scottish, Exeter Chiefs and Bath before heading to Sale Sharks.
Sale Sharks’ Director of Rugby, Alex Sanderson, on Phillips’ career coming to an end, “He’s not been able to train at all over the past few months, but he’s still been down at Carrington regularly, and you can see how popular he is with the players.
“He’s a converted northerner, and I know that despite his playing career being cut short, he’s got so much still to give to the game as a coach.
“I genuinely hope that he’ll be one of those people who will be part of the Sharks family for life. We’ve loved working with him and wish him all the very best for the future.”