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Connacht confirm Craig Clarke retirement after repeated concussions

The 30-year-old hadn’t played since January, when he sustained his 10th concussion in 22 months.

Clarke made 15 starts for Connacht over the course of the season.
Clarke made 15 starts for Connacht over the course of the season.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CONNACHT HAVE CONFIRMED that second row Craig Clarke will retire from professional rugby with immediate effect.

The New Zealander, who won two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs, has suffered “a number of concussions over an extended period of time” and makes his decision based on the medical advice of specialists in Ireland and abroad.

Clarke joined Connacht last summer in what was a major coup for the western province, and swiftly rose to the rank of captaincy. However, February brought news that the 30-year-old had been ruled out ‘indefinitely’ after suffering what was his 10th concussion in 22 months.

A head knock sustained against Saracens in a Heineken Cup clash at Allianz Park in January was at the root of that decision to withdraw Clarke from playing, and he has been “carefully monitored” by medical experts ever since. Unfortunately, the symptoms have shown no signs of clearing in the near future.

While it is of course extremely disappointing the way my career has come to an unexpected end I am, at the same time, so thankful for the opportunities afforded to me through my involvement in the professional game,” says Clarke.

“Of course I understand that health takes priority over sport every time, but I still can’t escape the disappointment that I couldn’t contribute to Connacht Rugby as I would have liked and envisaged before my arrival.

Craig Clarke Clarke won two Super Rugby titles with the Chiefs. Source: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

“There will be a lot I’ll remember from my time in Ireland. Naturally, our victory over Toulouse was a huge highlight but there are other little things I’ll never forget. The Connacht fans are like no other I’ve ever encountered. The first time I ran out through the Clan Stand and on to the pitch, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up.

“I’ve never experienced such noise and atmosphere, and from within a relatively small stadium. They are an amazing bunch of supporters and I’d like to thank them for making me feel so welcome here.

Myself and my family will now return to New Zealand and start work on our farm there. I will of course be keeping a keen eye on Connacht Rugby and their games next season.

“The birth of our little girl Isabella in Galway means that we will always have a connection with the west of Ireland, and it will be a great excuse to visit again in the not too distant future.”

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Murray Kinsella

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