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Ulster's Cave announces retirement days after superb display against Leinster

The 31-year-old will bow out at the end of this season.

ULSTER CENTRE DARREN Cave has announced that he will retire from professional rugby at the end of the current season.

The announcement comes just days after the 31-year-old delivered a superb performance in the 13 shirt as Ulster came up just short against Leinster in their Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium.

Darren Cave Cave will retire at the end of the season. Source: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Cave has earned 225 appearances for his native Ulster since making his senior debut in 2007, helping them into the final of the 2012 Heineken Cup and a Pro12 final in 2013.

The Holywood man has won 11 caps for Ireland and was part of the 2015 World Cup squad, while he helped the Ireland U20s to a Grand Slam in 2007 and won the 2009 Churchill Cup with Ireland A.

Cave will now hope to finish out his career by playing a central part in Ulster ending their season in style in the Guinness Pro14.

“Many people have contributed massively to help me along this journey, far too many to name,” said Cave in an open letter to supporters.

“Thank you to my friends, coaches, medical staff, S&C staff and all the other staff and management at Ulster Rugby behind the scenes that gave me the opportunity to be the best player, and person, that I could be. I’ve no idea how many team-mates I’ve had over the years but thank you to all of them, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I have made some friends for life.

“This is a really exciting group to be a part of and I’m determined to give everything so that we can finish the season on a high. Beyond that, I can’t wait to put my feet up and watch Ulster Rugby win trophies over the coming years.

“Whilst I’m proud of my achievements, more than anything else I’m grateful that my family sacrificed so much to let me pursue this crazy dream that I could play rugby for Ulster and Ireland.

“I really don’t know how I’m supposed to put my gratitude into words for how much my dad Brian and my mum Ruth have done for me over the years. Not to mention my older brother Stuart, who taught me how to go ‘toe to toe’ wrestling in the back garden from a young age. Who’d have thought it would have been such a valuable lesson.


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Darren Cave with Valentin Poparlan Cave in action at the 2015 World Cup. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“My amazing wife Helen has had to play second fiddle to rugby since we first met. We are expecting our first born in July, and if the love and support she has shown me over the years is anything to go by, I’m looking forward to watching her become an amazing mum.

“I genuinely believe Ulster fans are the greatest fans in the world, and not just because I was brought up as one. Over the last 13 years the lows have been low, but the highs have been higher, and most importantly, the terraces have always been full, the voices have been loud and you’ve always been there for me and the team.

“Thank you so much. SUFTUM.”

Ulster and Ireland captain Rory Best was among those to pay tribute to the retiring Cave.

“Cavey and I have played together for over a decade, so he is a player and person who I know very well and have great respect for,” said Best.

“His career will be remembered for the big performances he produced when we needed them most, and also for the passion and commitment he demonstrated in the process. It’s no surprise that he’s a popular member of the squad and a favourite among the Ulster supporters.

“Darren is a brilliant ambassador for Ulster Rugby and he has done a great deal for the local community, particularly with his charity work and his support for disability sport.

“He is a great role model for not only the inexperienced members of our squad, many of whom he has taken time to mentor, but also for aspiring young players who dream of representing Ulster.

“We have a hugely important end to the season upon us and we are all determined to make Darren’s remaining time at Ulster as successful as possible.”

- Originally published at 09.33

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Murray Kinsella

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