Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock announces he will retire from rugby

Backrow played 228 times for Leinster and was capped on 27 occasions

Ireland and Leinster backrow Rhys Ruddock has announced that he will retire from rugby at the end of the current season. Ruddock has played 228 times for Leinster and has been capped on 27 occasions by Ireland.

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

Less than a year after his Leinster debut, Ruddock was capped for the first time, against Australia, in the summer of 2010, when still only 19-years-old. 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.

In February 2011, Ruddock became the youngest ever Leinster captain when only 20 years old.

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“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,” said Ruddock.

“Supporting the Leinster team in Donnybrook as an eight-year-old, while my dad (Mike) 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 team-mates 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. 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 Rugby World Cup.

Leinster Rugby Head Coach, Leo Cullen, paid tribute to Ruddock today saying, “The Ruddock family have played a huge role in the evolution of Leinster Rugby in the professional era.

“Rhys’ father Mike was our first full-time 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 team-mates during his distinguished career.

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

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times