Leeds Carnegie second row Jon Pendlebury has announced his retirement from playing with immediate effect and will take up a role as Assistant Coach for the club’s Academy, working under Academy Manager Mark Luffman.

Pendlebury, 29, joined Leeds Carnegie in 2008 from Gloucester and has made 53 appearances for the club in the following four seasons. He has previously played for Rotherham and has been the club’s representative in The Rugby Players Association as a member of the RPA Management Board for the past three years.

RPA CEO Damian Hopley said: “Penny is one of the most impressive individuals I have met within the game and it has been a privilege to work alongside him during his time on The RPA Management Board, where he has represented the players from both Gloucester and Leeds in two terms respectively, with passion and professionalism. He has been very vocal in ensuring player welfare remains at the forefront of the game and he will never shy away from a challenge or a difficult issue if it means protecting the players’ interests.

“Jon has also played an integral part in making The RPA Player Development Programme such a success at Leeds, working very closely with our excellent Player Development Manager, Mandy Thompson, to encourage players to further their education, qualifications and work experience outside of training to make sure they are prepared for life after rugby.”

“We will all miss Jon on the RPA Board, but are delighted for both him and Leeds Carnegie that he will stay involved in the game, passing on his extensive knowledge and infectious enthusiasm to the next generation of players in the Leeds Carnegie Academy. I have no doubt Jon will carve out a significant coaching career in the years ahead, and we wish him and his young family every possible success for the future.”

Commenting on the decision Pendlebury said: “It has been a tough decision but it was important that I put my health first before anything else. I am extremely grateful to our medical staff at Leeds Carnegie and our club doctor Jon Greenwell who has talked me through all the options. I have suffered a number of concussions this season and it is time to move onto the next stage of my career. I would like to thank Chris Gibson, Diccon Edwards and Mark Luffman for the opportunity work with the Academy team. Whilst I wish that my playing career still had two or three years to go, I am very excited to work with the incredible young talent we have in Yorkshire.

“There have been lots of highlights in my career. Making my debut for Rotherham, signing for Gloucester and coming to Leeds were all special moments. But above all those events, the best thing has been meeting some of my best friends during my time at Leeds Carnegie, friends I will have for the rest of my life. I would like to thank all the club’s supporters for their backing and the RPA, especially Mandy Thompson, who have helped me in the past few years to prepare for the end of my career. Finally, I owe a massive debt of thanks to my family and especially my wife Donna for their support throughout my career and in particularly over the last few months as I came to the decision to retire,” added Pendlebury.

Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards said, “Jon has been an outstanding servant for Leeds Carnegie down the years. He has always given 100% and even when he has not been able to play he has been a constant support to the rest of the squad. I know he will be a powerful figure for our young men in the Academy and he will work well with Mark Luffman.”

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