Tommy Bowe to bow out after stellar career of winging it

Ulster star won 69 Ireland caps and played five Tests for the Lions

Tommy Bowe scores Ireland’s fourth try during the Rugby World Cup game against Romania at Wembley Stadium in September 2015. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tommy Bowe scores Ireland’s fourth try during the Rugby World Cup game against Romania at Wembley Stadium in September 2015. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

When Tommy Bowe rides off into the sunset at the end of the season, he’ll assuredly do so as most people’s idea of not only Monaghan and Ulster’s greatest ever right winger, but Ireland’s too.

Monday night’s announcement came via Twitter by the bard himself.

“I’ve spent most of my career in Belfast,

At first George said I wasn’t very fast,

I eventually found my gears,

Had some incredible years,

But it’s time to tell you – this is my last!”

After recovering from the broken ankle which ultimately ended his Test career in the defeat to Wales last March, last December a rejuvenated Bowe had spoken of playing on after this season.

Clearly though, with his 34th birthday next month, the broken sternum he suffered in Ulster’s defeat to Leinster a fortnight ago, allied to a burgeoning TV career as a presenter on Getaways and a young family with his wife, Lucy Whitehouse, and daughter, Emma, who will be one in April, led to a re-think. He has penned an open letter to be published on Ulster’s website today.

However, sadly his Irish career ended, we and he will always have Cardiff in 2009 – when at the zenith of his powers – and that iconic catch on the run from Ronan O’Gara’s crosskick for the try which helped Ireland to the Grand Slam. That’s the stuff of legends.

It was one of 30 tries in just 69 caps for his country, a brilliant strike rate indeed, and leaves him second only to some bloke called O’Driscoll in the list of Ireland’s all-time leading try scorers.

The numbers are impressive. In 169 games for Ulster so far he has scored 62 tries, second only to Andrew Trimble, added to which there were 29 tries in 66 games during his four-year sojourn with the Ospreys from 2008 to 2012.

He is the Pro14’s all-time leading try scorer, with 67 in 169 games, and his haul of 29 tries in 66 European Cup games places him fourth in that all-time list. There were also five tries in 10 games on the Lions tours of 2009 to South Africa, when he was one of the players of the tour, and 2013, including five Tests. In total therefore, that’s 250 first-class games and 131 tries to date for Ulster, the Ospreys, Ireland and the Lions.

Not bad for a slow lad alright.

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