Leinster's Costello to retire

Leinster and Ireland forward Victor Costello is to retire from competitive rugby at the end of the season.

Costello made his debut for Ireland against the USA in 1996 and went on to win 39 caps for his country. He made his provincial debut for Connacht in 1993 and toured with Ireland to Australia in 1994. After a short spell with London Irish in 1996, he returned to Ireland with Leinster and has made 121 appearances for the province.

Costello is also an Irish Athletics International and represented Ireland in the shot putt in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992.

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan said: “Victor Costello has enjoyed an incredible sporting career of which rugby has played a huge part. He was one of the most talented athletes in world rugby and played a big part in the recent success of the national team, none more so than in the Rugby World Cup in 2003. I wish him every success in his future career plans.”

Leinster Director of Rugby Declan Kidney added: “Victor has been a great servant to Leinster rugby and a cornerstone for the team over the last decade. Everyone knows when it is their time to retire and it will be very difficult to replace him. I wish him well for the future.”

Leinster Chief Executive Mick Dawson also paid tribute to the Leinster stalwart: “Victor Costello is one of the true legends of Irish sport. He can look back on a career that has transcended the amateur days right through to the professional era with great pride having served his country and his home province with distinction over the years.

"His place in Leinster folklore was confirmed when he earned his both his 100th provincial and his 50th Heineken Cup caps last year and he has played an important role in this year’s campaign.

“On behalf of everyone involved in Leinster rugby I would like to take this opportunity to wish Victor, his mother Marie and his all family well in the future and to thank him for his outstanding service to both the green and blue shirt.”

VICTOR COSTELLO:

(Statistics accurate as at March 16 2005)

Ireland Caps: 39 (January 1996 - )

Ireland points: 20 (4 tries)

Ireland "A" Caps: 9

Ireland Under-21 Caps: 2

Ireland Schools Caps: 4

Official Leinster Caps: 121

Points Scored: 70 (14 tries)

Celtic League/Cup Caps: 34 (3 tries)

Heineken Cup Caps: 56 (5 tries)

Senior Debut: Friendly, 46-11 win v Natal XV at Anglesea Road, 25.10.1995

Heineken Cup Debut: 21-24 win v Milan in Italy, 01.11.1995

Leinster Under-20/21 Caps: 1

Costello's late father Paddy 'Butch' Costello (second row) earned one cap for Ireland against France in Paris in 1960.

His sister Suzanne is a former Irish Schools 100m sprint champion.

Costello won 2 Leinster Schools Senior Cup medals with Blackrock College (1987 and ’89) and 1 Junior Cup medal (1986). He also captained Blackrock in the 1988 campaign but lost in the semi final to Clongowes Wood College.

He won his first Irish athletics cap in Portugal in 1986 alongside his sister Suzanne and Irish long distance champion Sonia O’Sullivan.

He represented Ireland in the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Games when he threw the shot putt under the guidance of current Leinster Strength & Conditioning coach David Fagan.

He is the second most capped player in the history of Leinster Rugby behind his good friend Shane Byrne (130 Leinster caps).

Costello made seven appearances for Connacht in the 1993-’94 and 1994-’95 seasons and joined London Irish for a short spell in 1996.

Captained Leinster for the first time in recent 29-16 defeat to The Borders.

He has represented Ireland on 39 occasions (including 29 starts and 10 substitute appearances) and has also scored four tries.

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