Newcastle Falcons second-row Carlo del Fava has been forced to retire from professional rugby with immediate effect due to a neck injury.
The 32-year-old, who was capped 54-times by Italy, has decided to call time on his rugby career following advice from medical experts that to enable him to continue to play he must undergo two major operations without any certainty of success.
Del Fava joined the Falcons in the summer of 2012 and played an integral part in helping the club make an immediate return to the Aviva Premiership.
Making 12 appearances for the northeasterners this term including ten starts, the no-nonsense lock has been a cornerstone of the Falcons pack until injury put paid to his campaign.
Standing at 6ft 6