LONDON Irish legend Topsy Ojo insists he has no regrets about deciding to hang up his boots at the end of last season ahead of the club’s return to the top flight of English rugby.

The 33-year-old former England wing helped Exiles achieve promotion to the Gallagher Premiership before announcing his retirement after 16 successful years with the club.

He finished his career as Irish’s all-time record appearance maker and try scorer, having made his debut in October 2005 after joining the club’s academy two years earlier.

But despite admitting he toyed with the idea of staying on for one more season, Ojo believes his time had come as he began to focus more and more on his plans away from the pitch.

“It definitely wasn’t an easy decision, I’d been thinking about it for the last couple of years,” he said. “You get past 30 and you have to start planning for what’s going to be the next 30-40 years.

“As much as I was tempted to have another stint in the Premiership and another stab with Irish, there were opportunities I’d been working on away from the pitch.

“It was a case of jumping on those now while the opportunity was at its best as who knows what could happen in a year's time. I’m happy with the decision and I’ll still be at games.

“It’s been quite nice as this is the longest break I’ve had, coming straight into rugby from school, but it’s been great to spend a bit more time at home with the family.

“I’ve had a chance to dip my toe into projects I otherwise wouldn’t have had time for and we’ll see if that changes as and when the games start, but I’m still heavily involved.

“I’m still going to be in and around it, doing a bit of coaching and a lot of media work this season as well, so I have probably just stepped aside a bit – it’s been quite a soft transition so far.”

Ojo was speaking at the Guinness National Rugby Awards, which were created in 2015 and celebrate the best of rugby from grassroots to the very pinnacle of the game.

The awards, hosted at Twickenham Stadium, recognise clubs, players, coaches, volunteers, mini sections, supporters and many more people who make rugby the game it is.

And with Ojo now taking on an ambassadorial role at Irish, he is excited to see how they perform on their return to the Premiership – especially with the move to their new stadium on the horizon.

“It will be great to see the club back in the Premiership, we know it’s a big season and it’s their last year in Reading with a view to moving to Brentford next summer,” he said.

“That is a huge project in itself, but just for Irish to be back in the top tier battling with all the elite clubs, it’s huge for the club, it’s where they want to be.

“It will be a tough season no doubt, it’s always tough for the club coming up, but then I think we saw last season the standard is so high that anyone can beat anyone.

“Saracens and Exeter are probably the two standout teams, but beneath that it is a very tough, competitive environment and Irish will just have to get stuck in and be a part of that.

“They will need to fight their way through it and then hopefully they can look forward to a better future as they have made an impressive roster of signings.

“It will be incredible to put that team out on the park as it’s completely different to what people will be used to, but the way the league is now you need to be competing.

“A lot of teams will have that international quality right the way through, so we have to be the same, we’ve gone the same way now and hopefully that pays off.”

The Guinness National Rugby Awards recognises the outstanding work done by coaches, players and supporters across the country. There is no other event which brings together the clubs and players from all the leagues in England, from grassroots to elite.