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Leinster stalwart calls it a day

NEWS: Leinster back row forward Rhys Ruddock has announced that he will retire at the end of the 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 No.6 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 2010, when still only 19, as a late injury call-up for their mid-year tour Down Under.

His leadership qualities have also shone over many years captaining Ireland Under-20 to a Six Nations title and going on to captain Leinster and Ireland at senior level.

In February 2011, Ruddock became the youngest ever Leinster captain when only 20 – against Aironi.

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“This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make,” Ruddock said.

“To retire from playing the game you love isn’t easy.

“However, after 15 years of the professional game, 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.

“To everyone who has helped me on my rugby journey, but in particular, to Mumbles RFC, UCD, St. Mary’s and of course in Leinster; to the players, the coaches, the medics, staff and the supporters, thank you.

“I couldn’t have done any of it without the unwavering support of my family.

“To my mum and dad, Bernadette and Mike, to Katie, Ciarán and to my partner Caoimhe, thank you all so much for the support through the good days and the bad. It wouldn’t have been possible without you all in my corner.

“It’s been one hell of a journey so far; so many incredible memories made and friendships built. I’m looking forward to giving everything I can to help this team finish this season on a high.”

Since his debut in 2009, Ruddock has been part of six URC title winnings squads, three Champions Cup titles, a Challenge Cup and was also named on the PRO12 Team of the Year in 2014.

With Ireland, he won a Six Nations title in 2014 and played in the 2015 and the 2019 World Cup tournaments.

Leinster coach Leo Cullen paid tribute to Ruddock.

The Ruddock family has played a huge role in the evolution of Leinster in the professional era,” Cullen said.

“Rhys’ father Mike was our first fulltime professional coach and Rhys was a young boy back in 1997 when I first laid eyes on him!

“He certainly grew up quickly representing Ireland first when he was only 19.

“I was lucky enough to both play with and coach Rhys. He has been a fantastic player and role model to so many others during his time with Leinster. He has amazing leadership qualities and is a great competitor who has shown a deep care for so many of his teammates during his distinguished career.

“We would like to wish Rhys and all the Ruddock family every success for the future.”

* Picture credit: @leinsterrugby


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