England’s World Cup-winner James Simpson retires from wheelchair rugby league

James Simpson (right) has announced his retirement from wheelchair rugby league (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)
James Simpson (right) has announced his retirement from wheelchair rugby league (Bradley Collyer/PA) (PA Wire)

James Simpson, who was part of the England squad that won last year’s Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup, has announced his retirement after 10 years in the sport.

Simpson, who also played in seven Grand Finals for Leeds, will now focus on his role as head coach of the Rhinos, for whom he made his debut in 2012.

Leeds-born Simpson said: “I made the decision a few years ago that I would retire from playing after 10 years.

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“I was in the army for 10 years and I played for 10 years and I just thought now would be a good time for a new challenge.

“After waking up the next day after the World Cup final, I called my partner and I felt such a sense of fulfilment and I knew I’d made the right decision to end my playing career and now it’s time to move on to something else.”

Simpson won 31 caps for the national team, and made his World Cup debut in 2017, in which England were narrowly beaten by France in the final in Perpignan.

Five years later, he was an integral member of the squad that upset the French with a pulsating final win in Manchester last November after Tom Halliwell’s dramatic late try.

“Over the last 10 years I have seen the game grow so much, from playing in little sports halls to playing on the big stage in front of 5,000 people,” added Simpson.

“I’m stepping away at a time where I’ve seen the game reach these heights and I’m proud to have played a part in that and hopefully I’ve had an impact as an Ambassador.

“I’ve seen the Rhinos go from losing every game we’ve ever played to winning the treble. So it has been great being part of a team that’s gone from rock bottom to being a challenger every year.”