Monday 22 January 2018

Tributes flow in for Paul O'Connell after he is forced to retire from rugby

Paul O'Connell has yet to return from the hamstring injury he suffered last October
Paul O'Connell has yet to return from the hamstring injury he suffered last October

Tom Rooney

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:

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