Rimmer forced to retire
By Mark Stevens
Exeter Chiefs’ prop Carl Rimmer has been forced to retire after suffering a stroke while training in January.
The 32-year-old, who has spent the past six years with Exeter after joining them from the Cornish Pirates in 2012, played more than 100 games for the Premiership club.
But after waiting a few months to see if his situation would improve and if he would be able to continue to play the game he loved, he has now been forced to admit defeat.
“In January, I suffered a stroke after a nick in the artery following some contact in the game at Newcastle,” explained Rimmer. “It was a delayed onset situation as, two days after the game, I walked out onto the training pitch, ran 50 metres at my slowest possible pace and nearly knocked Stu Townsend over by falling over.
“It was all a bit weird. Nobody knew what had happened, I didn’t really know, I was fully conscious, and by the time I got to hospital and someone diagnosed it and told me what was wrong, the best part of me thought ‘it can’t be, it is impossible, I am 30 years old, there is no way that’s happened’, and it turns out it was related to trauma and not to anything else.
“I spent the best part of a week in hospital. During the first week, there wasn’t even a thought of what was going on in the future, it was more dealing with the symptoms at hand, and I was so fortunate to be where I was, surrounded by medical teams and doctors, and by the time a week has passed, I was up on my feet and walking round, and everybody was very, very happy.
“The club were brilliant with me and let me have some good time off to make sure everything healed as it should. Apart from the rugby side of things, I have been pretty much fine since February, so that has been brilliant.
“I was under the impression from medical guidance that there was a chance that I could return to playing, but at the same time the percentage was only 50-50, but unfortunately, three months later, when they rescanned everything, the injury itself had not healed properly, which just meant the risks of returning to play a contact sport were too great, and I was advised medically to retire, which wasn’t great news to hear at the time.”
Rimmer was full of praise for his wife Sophie, adding: “She was fantastic throughout the whole thing and stayed very strong, particularly during the early days when I was unable to do much, and she just took care of everything and got on with our lives, without me having to have any extra worries, so she was amazing.”
Rimmer’s career started with a serious neck injury at the age of 21 while at Coventry, but he moved to the Pirates in 2009.
“When I moved down there, they were almost taking a chance on me, I was a 21-year-old kid who had played a bit of National One (now Championship) rugby, as it was then, and had just had a serious neck injury as a prop.
“They took a chance, just as much as I did, and I would like to think they believed it worked out very well, and so do I, and I couldn’t thank them enough for it, the same way I couldn’t thank Rob Baxter and the Chiefs when, three years later, the chance to join them popped along.
“I moved up to Exeter with high hopes and, six amazing years later, a Premiership win, LV= Cup wins, more Premiership caps than I ever dreamt of getting when I moved to the club, and I have nothing but positive feelings towards the club that gave me by far my biggest chance.”
Looking ahead to the future, Rimmer is looking to take up a new job in the construction industry.
“Plans are starting to be made,” he said.“I am now in the position where I am looking forward to my next challenge, and not lamenting what was.”
However, the Banbury-born forward has no plans to leave Exeter and the South West.
“It is my new adopted home, I have got no interests in leaving,” said Rimmer. “I love it, my family love it, and I would like to say thank you to everyone who has made that possible as well.
“Players, fans, coaches, everyone I have met, and the club itself, has made the experience so much better, and for that I will always be grateful and be here for ever more, be that as a fan now or whatever, just always wanting to be a part of this place and the surrounding area.”