Tributes flow in for Paul O'Connell after he is forced to retire from rugby
Tributes have been pouring in from all corners of the rugby world after erstwhile Ireland captain Paul O’Connell announced his retirement today.
O’Connell issued a statement this morning through the IRFU that, on doctors’ advice, he would be stepping away from the game.
In Ireland’s final World Cup pool game against France, the Limerick native suffered a horrific hamstring injury from which he has been unable to recover.
After surgery, O’Connell had moved to the South of France with his family to rehab the injury before beginning a playing stint with the three-in-a-row European champions Toulon, for whom he signed last June.
As it transpires, that heroic performance as Ireland beat France to ensure they progressed to quarter-finals as pool winners, will be his last at the highest level.
O’Connell leaves behind a legacy that most could only dream of. He won 108 caps for Ireland, and currently stands as the country’s third most capped player. He played a key role as Ireland won the Grand Slam in 2009 that ended a 61 year wait for the title.
He was the skipper for the consecutive championships under Joe Schmidt in 2014 and 2015, the latter of which he was awarded player of the tournament.
He helped Munster to two Heineken Cups, in 2006 and 2008, and was captain for the second tilt. A three-time British and Irish Lion in 2005, 2009 and 2013. He captained the Lions on their tour of South Africa 2009 and, four years later, played in the first test of the winning series in Australia- a broken arm prevented him from taking further part.
Here is some of the reaction to O'Connell's retirement news:
Really disappointing to see @Paul_OConnell having to retire. Sensational career in Red & Green. Simply irreplaceable.— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) February 9, 2016
Wishing @Paul_OConnell every success in retirement, an amazing leader & inspiration to a generation of future rugby players.— Gordon D'Arcy (@Gordonwdarcy) February 9, 2016
All the best with the retirement @Paul_OConnell— Sean Cronin (@SeanCronin2) February 9, 2016
I'm expecting nothing but good things about me in that AutoBiography
Sad to see @Paul_OConnell retire, but what a legend on and off the field. Pleasure to share the same field with and against him.— gethin jenkins (@gethinjenkins1) February 9, 2016
Paul O'Connell says he made the decision a week ago but thought of retirement had been in his head for a while.— Cian Tracey (@CianTracey1) February 9, 2016
Vintage Paulie here.— Murray Kinsella (@Murray_Kinsella) February 9, 2016
"F*cking manic aggression!"https://t.co/Psg3hmko5b
Paul O'Connell's career ended by injury but he went out at the top, one of the best ever, playing at his best in beating France at Rwc15.— Matt Cooper (@cooper_m) February 9, 2016
Paul O'Connell, Warrior, Gentleman, Hero pic.twitter.com/0d0EOdI5QV— Carol Curley (@Ccurley0Carol) February 9, 2016