Wallaby skipper Mowen to quit Australian rugby
Australia's rugby player Ben Mowen looks on during the captain's run at Twickenham Stadium, southwest of London, on November 1, 2013
The 29-year-old said an intense travel schedule and missing time with his young daughter convinced him it was time to put his family first.
It is an unprecedented situation for an incumbent Test captain, effectively ending his international career and ruling him out of the World Cup.
"It's the hardest decision of my career and I flipped 100 different ways trying to figure out which way I was going to go," Mowen told Fairfax Media Thursday morning.
"But being away for so long (with the Wallabies and the ACT Brumbies), it was a bridge too far. It's time to put my family first, that's the most important thing.
"I'm extremely thankful for the opportunities I've had, but the reality is it is time to put my family first and have quality time together."
The shock decision comes just seven months after Mowen made his Test debut and after he was promoted to captain ahead of James Horwill for the Grand Slam tour of Europe in November.
Mowen insists he will leave Australia with no regrets and his impending move to France will allow him to spend more time with wife Lauren and 18-month-old Eleanor.
Mowen spent almost seven months away from his family in a hectic 2013, which included a Super Rugby finals campaign, a British and Irish Lions series and six-week tour of Europe.
The Brumbies skipper said he would play the Super Rugby season in Canberra before moving abroad. He told Fairfax he was in the final stages of negotiating a deal in France.