Donncha O'Callaghan to retire at end of Worcester's last home game

Donncha O'Callaghan made his debut with Munster in 1998
Donncha O'Callaghan made his debut with Munster in 1998

Ireland international Donncha O'Callaghan has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the Worcester Warriors' final home game against Harlequins on Saturday.

This will also mark an end of a stellar 20-year-career that started in 1998 when he made his debut for Munster. After close to 17 years with the Irish regional club and racking over 250 appearances, the 39-year-old switched to Worcester Warriors in 2015.

"I leave the game with a profound sense of gratitude for all that it’s given me. Physically I feel I can go on but now is the right time to go.

"It’s time to spend more time with the kids. A professional sportsman has to lead a selfish life, but it’s not fair on my family any more for me to keep doing this while precious time ebbs away with me in one country and my family in another.

"There are a lot of people to thank for my time in the game, during which I have also made so many wonderful lifelong friends, and to each and every one of you, I’d like to say a very big thank you.

"I’d like to thank Worcester in particular for making me feel so welcome and treating me so well. I’ve certainly felt at home for the past three seasons and I wish the club the best of luck in the future."

O'Callaghan has featured in 62 games for the Sixways outfit and has even gone on to captain them in 2017.

Warriors director of rugby Alan Solomons paid tributes to O'Callaghan and wished him good luck for his future.

"Donncha has had a stellar rugby career. He has proved himself at the top end of the game.

"More importantly, he is a quality bloke and certainly one of the finest men I have had the privilege of coaching.

"He has made an invaluable contribution to the club over the past three seasons and has played an important role in the development and mentoring of our young players.

"He leaves behind a wonderful legacy and by dint of who he is and what he has done, he will rightly be regarded as a legend of the game."

His Ireland debut came in 2003 and has played 98 Tests including four for British and Irish Lions during the 2005 and 2009 tours. O'Callaghan was part of the Irish team which won the Grand Slam in the 2009 Six Nations Championship and was also selected in the squad for 2011 World Cup.