DRAGONS stalwart Jack Dixon has hung up his boots at the age of 29 to ‘pursue opportunities outside rugby’.

The 29-year-old from Newbridge has made the shock announcement after making just four appearances in his 13th campaign with the Rodney Parade club.

The centre had a season left to run on his contract – he signed a two-year deal in 2023 after opening up on the mental strain that the recruitment freeze between the regions and WRU was putting players under – but has opted to bring an early end to his professional career.

Dixon said: “Rugby and the Dragons has been a huge part of my life since I was 16 years old, but I feel it’s the right time for me to step away from the professional game, move on and start the next chapter of my life.

“A massive thank you to all the players, coaches, medical staff, backroom staff and kitmen I have met and worked with over the years. You have all made it a very enjoyable experience.

South Wales Argus: OFFLOAD: Jack Dixon passes to fellow Dragons great Taulupe FaletauOFFLOAD: Jack Dixon passes to fellow Dragons great Taulupe Faletau

“To our dedicated and fantastic fans, a huge thank you for your unwavering and passionate backing. Playing at Rodney Parade was always incredibly special to me. I’ll see you all on the terraces soon!

“The biggest thank you goes to my wife, Lauren, and mam and dad. Your support and commitment to watch me play over the years has been incredible.

“My career has nowhere near reached the heights I dreamt of, but I look back at my time with great pride as I can say, hand on heart, I gave 100 per cent every time I stepped over the white line.

“I will always be a Dragon and support the club and I wish the team all the very best of luck for the future.”

The Dragons have an exciting batch of young centres coming through in Aneurin Owen, Harri Ackerman and Joe Westwood but Dixon, quiet but tough, leaves big boots to fill.

South Wales Argus: POWER: Jack Dixon on the charge past Dan Biggar at Judgement DayPOWER: Jack Dixon on the charge past Dan Biggar at Judgement Day

At the age of 16, the combative centre became the youngest player to make a regional appearance when he came off the bench in the Anglo-Welsh Cup win away at Wasps in October 2011.

He broke a record that had been set by starting teammate Hallam Amos – who retired at the age of 27 in 2022 to focus on his medical career.

Dixon went on to make 172 appearances for the Dragons, fifth on the all-time list behind Jason Tovey (178), Steve Jones (180), Matthew Screech (187) and Lewis Evans (236).

He produced the match-sealing turnover in the famous European Challenge Cup quarter-final win against Cardiff at Rodney Parade in 2015 and played in the semi-finals against Edinburgh and Montpellier.

Strong on the carry and big in defence, the centre was named in the Wales training squad ahead of the 2015 World Cup but a cap proved elusive.

Dixon suffered a career-threatening kidney injury on his return to club duty from that international camp but fought back to keep racking up the games for his region.

Dragons head coach Dai Flanagan said: “You cannot overstate Jack’s contribution to this club, and I have huge admiration for what he has achieved.

“To play for one club as successfully as Jack has for such a length of time is an outstanding achievement. He’s been an incredible professional, a true fans’ favourite, who never once took a backwards step on the field.

South Wales Argus: Dragons stalwart Jack Dixon has retiredDragons stalwart Jack Dixon has retired (Image: Huw Evans Agency)

“Away from the action, Jack has also contributed so much. He has been a superb role model for our young aspiring players, someone who leads by example and sets the highest of standards. He finishes with an impressive legacy.

“Jack will part of the fabric of our club and along with his family, Lauren, Alvey and Gracie, will always be warmly welcomed back at Rodney Parade.”

The Dragons will give Dixon a testimonial event, with details to come later in the year.

“Jack is a homegrown success story and epitomises what it is to be a Dragon,” said chairman David Buttress.

“A product of our academy, he is a one-club man who has been the ultimate professional over 13 seasons and put his body on the line every time he pulled on the jersey.

“Like all fans we will miss him as a player, and we wish him and his young family the very best in the next chapter of their lives together.”