FORMER Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has been forced to retire from club rugby on the grounds of medical advice.
Perhaps fittingly, O’Connell’s last game was in an Ireland shirt at last year’s Rugby World Cup, where he sustained a severe hamstring injury during his country’s final pool game against France.
He was badly missed in the subsequent quarter-final defeat to Argentina, but was due to complete his rehabilitation before resuming his club career with French side Toulon.
However, O’Connell is now deemed physically incapable of fulfilling his contractual obligations, releasing the following statement via the IRFU on Tuesday.
It is with deep regret that I have decided to retire from professional rugby following medical advice. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months.
Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. Unfortunately this will no longer be possible.
I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success.
I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.
I would like to thank those at Young Munster RFC, Munster Rugby, the IRFU and Lions Rugby who have supported me over the course of my playing career.
Special thanks must go to my wife Emily for her unwavering support through the good and the bad and to my parents Michael and Shelagh.
Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has supported the teams I have been a part of. The support you have shown me is humbling and an immense source of pride for both myself and my family.
Speaking to RTÉ Sport's Michael Corcoran, O’Connell added that it’s a “big disappointment” that he can’t take on the challenge of playing for Toulon, the Top 14 side who have been European champions for the past three years.