Canadian international lock Brett Beukeboom, captain of England’s Cornish Pirates, has announced his retirement from rugby.
The Pirates, who play in England’s second-tier Championship league, said the 29-year-old from Lindsay, Ont., had planned to call it quits at the end of the season. COVID-19 has prompted an early end to the campaign, however.
The 6-foot-5, 249-pounder won 35 caps for Canada, including three at the 2015 World Cup. He made his test debut against the United States in June, 2012, after playing in the under-20 Junior World Championship in Japan in 2009, and the Junior World Trophy in Moscow in 2010.
He last appeared for his country against Hong Kong in November, 2018, at the Rugby World Cup repechage tournament in Marseille.
In 2017, Beukeboom served as Canada’s co-captain — with star winger DTH van der Merwe — for June test matches, including a crucial World Cup qualifying series with the U.S.
He is the second Canadian international to retire from the Pirates this month. Matt Evans, who won 40 caps for Canada and appeared in two World Cups, stepped away from the pitch earlier this month to become the Pirates’ team manager.
Beukeboom joined the Pirates after the Rugby World Cup, having previously played in the Championship for Plymouth Albion. He made 107 appearances for the Pirates.
“His dedication to the Pirates and what he has helped us achieve has been outstanding and having to hang up his boots without the send-off he deserves from all of the supporters and his colleagues is not what we would have chosen, but in these unfortunate circumstances it can’t be helped,” club chief executive Rebecca Thomas said in a statement.
Added Pirates coach Alan Paver: “He’s been a real stalwart of the side, putting a hell of a shift in body-wise, plus leading the team fantastically in the captaincy role.
“As for his decision to return home to start a fresh life, it is one we respect and have known about for a long time. At some stage, one has to make big-boy decisions, reference the future and although we’ll miss him, Brett will not be forgotten because of the man he is and the contribution he has made.”
Sports runs in the Beukeboom family. Younger brother Matt has also represented Canada in rugby, while cousin Tyson has played for the Canadian women’s team.
His father, John, won the 1979 Memorial Cup as a defenceman with the Peterborough Petes. An eighth-round draft pick of the Detroit Red Wings, he went on to spend six seasons in the minors, where he collected more than 1,000 penalty minutes.
His uncle Jeff played 13 seasons in the NHL with Edmonton and the New York Rangers. He won three Stanley Cups with the Oilers (1987, ‘88 and ‘90) and one with the Rangers (1994).
Brett Beukeboom’s commitment to the cause was shown in early 2017, when, after an eight-hour bus ride home from a club game in Leeds to Penzance in Southwest England, he got a call from then-Canada coach Mark Anscombe.
Beukeboom was needed as an injury call-up for Americas Rugby Championships play.
Beukeboom took a six-hour train ride to London, then a flight to Miami and finally a connection to Montevideo, Uruguay, in a trip that took some 40 hours door to door.