Leinster and ex-Ireland forward Ruddock to retire

Rhys Ruddock
Rhys Ruddock is fifth in the all-time appearances' list for Leinster [Inpho]

Leinster back row and former Ireland international Rhys Ruddock is to retire from playing rugby at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old will call time on his career as one of the province's most decorated players, having played 228 games for Leinster since making his debut in 2009.

Ruddock was called up to the Ireland squad as a 19-year-old on the summer tour to Australia in 2010 by then-coach Declan Kidney, making his debut against the Wallabies in Spain.

The flanker was part of Ireland's 2014 Six Nations winning squad, winning 27 caps, the last of which came against France in 2021.

He also featured in the 2015 and 2019 Rugby World Cups for Ireland.

The son of former Leinster and Wales head coach Mike Ruddock, Rhys was born in Dublin and grew up in Wales, before joining the Leinster academy and making his debut for the province against the Dragons.

With Leinster, he won six league titles, three Champions Cup crowns and a Challenge Cup in a distinguished career.

"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 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 teammates 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.