O’Connell to retire from international rugby after WC

Paul O'Connell has retired from playing rugby

Ireland captain Paul O’Connell has announced that he will retire from playing international rugby at the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

O’Connell has been widely tipped to join French Top 14 club Toulon after the world cup and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) have agreed to terminate his agreement with Munster in recognition of his contribution to his province and national team.

The 35-year-old lock, who has won 101 caps for Ireland, skippered his country to the Six Nations title earlier this year and plans to return home in a coaching capacity once his playing days are over.

“After the World Cup I’d like to experience new environments and it is my genuine hope and ambition that I will have some future involvement with Munster and Irish rugby,” O’Connell said in a statement.

“I would like to thank Munster and the IRFU for releasing me from my contract at the end of the World Cup. As a proud Limerick, Munster and Irishman, I will forever treasure my association with Munster Rugby.”

O’Connell was captain of the 2009 British and Irish Lions on their tour to South Africa and also toured in 2005 and 2013, playing in a total of seven Tests.

“Paul has been a fantastic servant to Irish rugby. Over the course of his 101 Ireland caps to date he has set the standard for the model Irish professional,” IRFU chief executive Philip Browne said.

“His contribution to Irish rugby is immeasurable in terms of not only driving success on the field but also raising the profile of Irish Rugby around the world.”

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