London Welsh captain Tom May admits he was emotional after bringing his career to an end in the Aviva Premiership Rugby clash with Saracens on Saturday.
The former Newcastle Falcons and Northampton Saints centre made his 247th and final top-flight appearance and bows out of the game third on the all-time Aviva Premiership Rugby list.
Having helped guide the Exiles back to the top tier last season, it has been a tough campaign for May and his team-mates. Saturday’s 68-17 defeat at home to Sarries left them bottom of the table, having lost all 22 league games this term.
Yet 36-year-old May insists he has enjoyed his last hurrah in Aviva Premiership Rugby and backed London Welsh to become stronger for the experience.
“Today has been tough emotionally but I’ve enjoyed every moment of the last 17 years and I look forward to waking up in the morning and not feeling sore,” said May, who joined Welsh in 2013.
“No matter how tough it’s been, it’s been a privilege to work with these guys over the last two years. We had a fantastic year last year but were clearly well off the pace this year, but I couldn’t ask anything more of them.
“You always want to win things with your mates, who you train with every day. I’ve had opportunities to do that, at Newcastle, and at London Welsh. The Championship last year was fantastic, to win something and to get back into the Premiership at the first ask.”
The Exiles were only nine points behind at half-time after tries from Nick Reynolds and Chris Elder, but they conceded 42 unanswered points after the break.
Chris Ashton ran in four tries, while David Strettle, Alex Goode, Juan Figallo, Charlie Hodgson and brothers Billy and Mako Vunipola also crossed for Sarries, who secured their semi-final place.
And former England international May admits it was a hard last day at the office.
“That was a pretty tough game, we knew they had to come out and play,” he added. “But I thought first half the lads stuck to the task well. It’s very difficult to beat a side with that sort of quality.”
Tickets to the Aviva Premiership Rugby Final are selling faster than this time last year so now's the time to click here to book your place at the world's biggest club rugby final