The 26-year-old scrum-half, the Reds’ longest-serving player, has made the decision after the diagnosis of a pulmonary embolism – a blood clot in his lung. This was his second blood clot following an episode of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) in 2012, and prompted professional advice that he would need to take anti-coagulant medication for the rest of his life and could no longer play a physical sport like rugby.
Dudley joined the Reds in summer 2012 and made his first appearance in a pre-season match against Leicester Tigers. His first season with the Island side was badly affected by his DVT, although he returned at the end of the campaign. During his six years as a Jersey Reds’ player he made 97 competitive appearances, including playing in the 2016/17 B&I Cup Final, and winning four Siam Cup ‘caps’. Of Dudley’s five tries in Jersey colours, the most recent stands out, when he started and finished a flowing move against Rotherham that was subsequently voted to be the Greene King IPA Championship’s try of the season.
Head coach Harvey Biljon said: ‘This is devastating news for Joel and for the club. He’s been a popular member of the squad throughout his time here, and had become one of our senior and most-respected players. He’s only in his mid-twenties and should have had many seasons of rugby ahead of him.’
Chairman Mark Morgan added: ‘We’re sad to be losing Joel but in the end it was necessary to heed medical advice, in spite of the hard work of our back-room staff and by Joel himself. We hope that he can remain involved in rugby and will be considering how we can acknowledge his years of service in an appropriate fashion.’
The Reds will start their seventh season in the Greene King IPA Championship this coming Saturday with an away game against newly-promoted Coventry. The first home action of the Championship campaign at Stade Santander International will be the visit of Yorkshire Carnegie on Friday 28 September.