Del Fava forced to retire

Newcastle Falcons lock Carlo del Fava has been forced to retire with immediate effect because of a neck injury.

The 32-year-old, capped 54 times by Italy, has decided to take advice from medical experts that he would have to undergo two major operations on his neck to have any chance of playing on.

Del Fava was a part of the Falcons team which won promotion to the Aviva Premiership in 2012-13 and he made another 12 appearances this season before injury struck him down.

"I would like to thank everyone who has been a part of my rugby career and I'm now looking forward to the challenges post rugby," said del Fava, who also represented Parma, Bourgoin, Viadana, Aironi and Ulster.

"I'm very disappointed not to be involved with the club's Aviva Premiership campaign for the remainder of the season, and I would like to wish the team all the very best."

Director of rugby Dean Richards said: "I'm bitterly disappointed for Carlo, who during his two seasons with us has been a fantastic character to have around the club both on and off the field.

"It was an extremely difficult decision for him to have to make, but it was the right one for him and we wish him all the very best for the future."