Three Premiership trophies, taking his country to a World Cup final and two appearances in European club rugby’s showpiece game - not bad for a Hartismere boy who learnt his rugby playing in Diss.
[Source: Diss Express]
After announcing he had been forced to retire through a persistent shoulder injury last Wednesday, the 30-year-old has plenty to savour from a career spanning 15 years and two clubs.
But the former Hartismere High School pupil told the Express to pick out one stand-out memory, even when faced with a breathtaking winning try for Leicester Tigers in the 2010 Guinness Premiership final, was too difficult a task.
GOOD TIMES: Dan Hipkiss, right, with Leicester teammates and the Guinness Premiership trophy in 2010. Picture: Leicester Tigers
He said: “It is really tough, I have lots of memories really and have enjoyed my time with all the boys and had a great time.
“Some of the best ones were playing in the Monday evening games when I won four A League finals (with Tigers), helping starting off the young ones.
“I was proud to play for my country and got to play with some legends of the game in Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson and Lewis Moody and I will not ever forget that and that was more important than all the awards.”
With a trophy cabinet most players can only dream of, the one that got away will always be the Heineken Cup, despite helping carrying England to within 80 minutes of regaining the Webb Ellis Cup in Paris in 2007, only to lose 15-6 to South Africa.
“Both Heiniken Cup finals were pretty tough to take and I certainly felt we were good enough, particularly in 2007 and we ran Leinster pretty close as well in 2009,” he said.
“The World Cup would have been great, but no-one expected us to get there and I am pretty happy to not have too many regrets.”
But the fairytale ending he hoped for, returning to where it all started for a few more final games in the blue shirt of Diss at Mackenders, now looks to have been pulled from under his feet. Though it won’t be the last the club sees of their most famous son.
“It would have been a nice way to finish if I could get in the team at Diss and play some games,” said the ex-England centre. “I’ll definitely be back though, whether it is watching Sevens or anything, but maybe coaching the kids again.”
Having only signed a new one-year extension to his contract at Bath last month, where he only played 28 times since his 2011/12 move, Hipkiss admitted medical advice to retire was not a big surprise.
He said: “When you have a second operation on the same problem you are quite aware things might not get better.
“I did pencil in a game to return, but I was never really close to returning. I just have to accept it now.”
Hipkiss has given the biggest hint yet that rugby isn’t where he sees his future, with the possibility of trading the engine room on the pitch for the heat of the kitchen.
“Obviously I have got a sports science degree from Loughborough and I have a few options,” he explained. “Maybe I have got to try something different as I have been playing rugby since I was five at Diss.
“I still love the game but I have a few options here in Bath – I have done some work experience in property and a few bits in food as well.
“I have been lucky enough to work in a few restaurants doing a bit of cooking and I been to a bakery cooking school.”
So, perhaps not as a rugby coach, but Dan Hipkiss will rise again.
A CAREER IN NUMBERS:
Diss Rugby Club youths: 1988-1998
(County and eastern counties champions)
Leicester Tigers: 1998-2011 (131 apps 150 pts)
Bath Rugby club: 2011-2013 (28 apps)
England caps: 13
Premiership trophies: 3
Heineken Cup finals: 2
World Cup finals: 1
ANGLO-WELSH TROPHIES: 1
Source: Diss Express