Paul O'Connell announces rugby retirement
The IRFU have announced that Ireland's talismanic leader Paul O'Connell has retired from rugby.
O’Connell had struggled to recover from the hamstring injury that had ended his international career during the Rugby World Cup.
He was contracted to play with French side Toulon but in the end was unable to make the move.
The Munster legend has released the following statement: "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."
Really disappointing to see @Paul_OConnell having to retire. Sensational career in Red & Green. Simply irreplaceable.— Brian O'Driscoll (@BrianODriscoll) February 9, 2016
Former teammate Brian O’Driscoll made one the first of what will be many tributes paid to the Limerick warrior as news of his retirement spreads.
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