Six weeks ago, I played my last professional game of rugby. The chapter of my life that started with my debut at Newcastle at the age of 19, ended at 36 in Oxford with the final shrill of a referee's whistle. Just like that, Tom May, London Welsh captain became Tom May former rugby player. So what now?
England under Stuart Lancaster seem to be building something special (though we've been saying that for over two years now) but they haven't got a Six Nations title or currently a consistent record against the Sanzar nations. Yet they have provided moments and performances that suggest they could challenge in the long run or if the stars align next year.
There are rarely any dull moments; huge collisions, eye-watering feat, fierce rivalries and deft skills means that if you switch off for a second during a match you'll miss something... Rugby is a physically dangerous sport, on a weekly and even daily basis players put their bodies and indeed lives on the line.
England are right to exclude overseas-based players from the national team. It's no secret that the giants of the French Top 14 are prepared to splash some serious cash to snap up top players. Racing Metro and Toulon in particular let their chequebooks do the talking over the close season; the Parisian giants snapped up the likes of Dan Lydiate, Jamie Roberts and Jonny Sexton, while their south coast rivals added South Africa legend Bryan Habana and others to their already star-studded squad.