Former Leinster and Ireland backrow Sean O’Brien announces retirement

London Irish flanker calls time on one of the most decorated careers in Irish rugby

Sean O’Brien will retire at the end of the season. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Sean O'Brien will retire from rugby at the end of the current season, a statement on the player's Twitter account has announced. The former Leinster and Ireland backrow won 56 Ireland caps to go with 126 Leinster appearances and will sign off after a three-year stint with London Irish.

O'Brien - who has also earned 11 caps for the Lions - retires with an impressive medal haul. With Leinster, he has won what is now called the URC a total of five times and the Champions Cup on four occasions. He also has a Six Nations winner's medal from 2015. On a personal level, he was named European player of the year in 2011.

In a statement, O’Brien thanked his family and those who helped him in his career. “I would like to say a special thank you to some people who believed in me early on in my career, who are sadly no longer with us,” said the backrow. “Jim Kealy (Tullow RFC) and David Wilkie (Edenderry RFC) always said the right thing to me and gave me direction when needed.

“Away from rugby, I feel lucky to have had such a close group of friends that I have always been able to count and rely on throughout the course of my career. Thanks to all of you, especially James Foley and Daniel Davey.


“Finally, the most important thank you is reserved for my family. I can’t thank my Mum, Dad, brothers (Stephen and William) and sisters (Caroline and Alex) enough for their unconditional support over the years. It has meant everything to me and to have six nephews watching means the world to me.

“I’ve had an incredible career and am thankful for every second of my time at Leinster, Ireland, London Irish and the British and Irish Lions.

“I am excited about the future and feel I still have a lot to offer the game, in whatever capacity that may be. I am currently taking my time to consider a number of options and will make an announcement with regards to the next stage of my career very soon.”

Speaking to on Friday morning, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said, "Seán will be remembered as one of the very special Leinster players, particularly his performances in helping Leinster win the Heineken Cup in 2011 and 2012.

“He was a fearless competitor and he gave incredible confidence to those around him."