Cohen moves in new direction

Ben Cohen has announced his retirement with immediate effect. [more]

Cohen moves in new direction

Ben Cohen has announced his retirement with immediate effect.

The 2001 Lions tourist has brought his stellar career to an end at the age of 32.

The World Cup winning wing believes he could continue playing for another two seasons but has instead decided to turn his attentions to a new foundation set up to tackle bullying and homophobia.

Cohen has long been a supporter of GBLF (Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Friends) charities and recently spoke out on the issue of teen suicides within that community.

The married father of two has set up the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation through which he hopes to use rugby as a tool through which to promote understanding.

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"In my view, rugby is a very inclusive sport. Everyone can get involved in one way or another, so I will be using it as a vehicle to drive my message of acceptance out to people from all walks of life, everywhere,” said Cohen.

"There is a lot of work to be done. Attitudes need to change. Young people should not be bullied into taking their own lives. That is what is happening and it needs to stop.

"I have reached the top in my sport. It has been an incredible journey and has put me in the privileged position I am in today to be able to work on these exciting new projects through the StandUp brand.

"As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it."

Cohen, who was favourite for a Test berth when the Lions toured Australia a decade ago but missed out on a cap to Daffyd James, Jason Robinson and Iain Balshaw, was released by Sale Sharks after two seasons in Stockport.

Capped 57 times by England, teh former Northampton and Brive star was thought to have received a number of offers to continue playing but has decided to head to the United States on what is branded an "Acceptance Tour", visiting Atlanta, New York, Washington and Seattle to work with gay and gay-friendly clubs to raise funds and promote the anti-bullying message.

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