Leinster star announces surprise retirement following Champions Cup final defeat

Hanging up the boots.

Leinster Rugby back row forward, Rhys Ruddock, has this afternoon announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of the current season.

Ruddock, who has played 228 times for Leinster and has been capped on 27 occasions by Ireland, will call time on a glittering career once the current Leinster season draws to a close in the coming weeks.

The 33-year-old made his debut for Leinster in December 2009 against the Dragons in the number six shirt and since then has been an ever-present in the Leinster back row, and on occasions second row, for Michael Cheika, Joe Schmidt, Matt O’Connor and Leo Cullen.

Less than a year after his Leinster debut, he pulled on a senior Ireland jersey for the first time, against Australia, in the summer of 2010, when still only 19, as a late injury call-up for their tour down under.

His leadership qualities have also shone over many years captaining Ireland U-20s to a Six Nations title and going on to captain Leinster and Ireland at senior level. Indeed, in February 2011, Ruddock became the youngest ever Leinster captain when only 20-years-old against Aironi.

Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie this afternoon, Ruddock said,

“This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make. To retire from playing the game you love isn’t easy, however after 15 years of professional rugby, I feel the time is right for me now and I’m excited for the next chapter.

“Supporting the Leinster team in Donnybrook as an eight-year-old, while my dad was coach, I could only have dreamed about putting on a Leinster jersey myself. To go on to play my whole career with this team has been a dream come true.

“Leinster has been such a huge part of my life. I have made some of my best friends here, with teammates past and present and had the privilege to be coached by, and work with, the most amazing group of people.

“To have had the opportunity to captain both Leinster and Ireland has been an incredible honour and is something I will always treasure and look back on with pride.

“I am hugely appreciative of the support the fans have given us over the years and have always felt privileged to represent you.

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