signing off

Leinster and Ireland back Fergus McFadden to retire when the season ends

As well as winning 34 Ireland caps, the versatile 33-year-old made 184 appearances for his province.

FERGUS MCFADDEN HAS announced that he will retire professional rugby once the 2019-20 season comes to a conclusion.

In addition to earning 34 caps for Ireland, the versatile 33-year-old back has made 184 appearances for Leinster since making his debut in September 2007.

fergus-mcfadden Fergus McFadden represented Ireland on 34 occasions. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“They say the best time to leave a party is when you’re still having fun so the time has come for me to announce my retirement from the end of the season,” McFadden said.

“It’s hard to put into words what a privilege it has been to have had such a long career playing for the team I grew up supporting and pulling on a green jersey to play for my country. It has been a dream come true.

“So, reflecting on what made this all possible, I would like to thank all the Leinster Rugby staff, Leo Cullen, the wider management team, medics, physios, strength and conditioning coaches, backroom staff and our legendary bagman Johnny O’Hagan. Leinster’s incredible success over many years has been as a result of the contributions of the entire team both on and off the field.

“To the players, there are too many for me to name individually right now but all I can say is that it has been an honour to play and work alongside such incredibly talented and professional people. The friendships and memories I have made are ones I will cherish for the rest of my life – not to mention the many laughs we had along the way!

“To the Leinster fan, I don’t think you could ask for better supporters. Your constant support and encouragement was felt throughout – not only there to celebrate the highs but also to support through the lows.

“To my wife Rebecca, my son Freddy, my parents, my friends and family, thanks for being there every step of the way.”

McFadden played in Leinster’s Heineken Cup final wins of both 2011 and ’12. He missed out on the victory in the 2018 decider after sustaining an injury while scoring a try in the semi-final win against Scarlets. The Kildare native also started in Leinster’s Pro12 final victories in 2013 and ’14.

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen paid tribute to the versatility of McFadden, who has scored 29 tries, 46 conversions and 68 penalties – as well as a drop goal against Cardiff in 2011 – during his time with the province.

jonathan-sexton-fergus-mcfadden-and-leo-cullen McFadden celebrating with Johnny Sexton and Leo Cullen after the 2011 Heineken Cup final. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“Fergus has been an amazing contributor to lots of great things that have taken place in Leinster and Irish rugby and he’s definitely one of the great characters that we’ve had around in the group,” said Cullen said.

“The versatility that Fergus has is hugely important. It can go against some players and tough calls not going their way but he would always do what’s best for the team. For example, even though typically your ten would take kicks, Fergus had no problem stepping up at crucial moments to take the pressure off someone. He had so many strings to his bow and he’s going to be a great loss to the group.”

At international level, McFadden made his debut against Italy in 2011 before going on to feature in the Ireland squads that won the Six Nations in 2014 and ’18. He also went to the 2011 World Cup, scoring a try in the defeat of Russia.

In spite of the uncertainty over the status of the 2019-20 season amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Cullen hopes that Leinster fans will get an opportunity to give McFadden a proper send-off.

He said: “We are being guided by public health guidelines at the moment but naturally the hope is that Fergus gets the chance to pull on the Leinster jersey again.

“Regardless of what happens though, we sincerely thank him for his efforts over the years and wish himself, Rebecca and their little boy Freddy the very best of luck.

“I’ve known Fergus a long time and his parents and my own parents would have agonised in the stands together as they watched their sons on the pitch, so we wish all of them the very best of luck in the future and hopefully we will continue to keep those connections back to Leinster Rugby strong.”

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