Rugby Union

Paul O'Connell was suffering from a hamstring injury picked up in the World Cup..

Former Ireland captain Paul O'Connell announces retirement

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Paul O'Connell has been forced to retire without playing a game for new club Toulon, unable to beat the hamstring injury that ended his World Cup prematurely.

The 36-year-old retired from Test rugby after Ireland's World Cup quarter-final defeat to Argentina, but had missed the last-eight clash after tearing his hamstring in the pool-stage victory over France.

O'Connell had always planned to trade home province Munster for Toulon and retire from international rugby after the World Cup, but that autumn injury has now denied him a club swansong with the French giants.

"It is with deep regret that I have decided to retire from professional rugby following medical advice," said O'Connell in an Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) statement.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months.

"Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon.

"Unfortunately this will no longer be possible."

Ireland's talismanic former captain racked up 108 caps in 13 years of Test rugby, and will go down as one of his country's finest-ever international stars.

The gritty Munster lock beat the turf in agony on tearing his hamstring in Ireland's 24-9 Pool D World Cup victory over France, however, reacting as much to the pain as the clear result of the blow.

O'Connell was quickly ruled out of Ireland's quarter-final showdown with Argentina, and Joe Schmidt's side later lost out 43-20.

O'Connell pressed on undeterred in his bid to join Toulon, despite requiring surgery to repair his serious hamstring problem.

Four months on, however, the British & Irish Lion has been forced to admit defeat in that battle to return to the field.

"I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success," said O'Connell.

"I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.

"I would like to thank those at Young Munster RFC, Munster Rugby, the IRFU and Lions Rugby who have supported me over the course of my playing career.

"Special thanks must go to my wife Emily for her unwavering support through the good and the bad and to my parents Michael and Shelagh.

"Lastly I would like to thank everyone who has supported the teams I have been a part of.

"The support you have shown me is humbling and an immense source of pride for both myself and my family."

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