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'I just hope I left the odd mark along the way' - ex-Munster player Coughlan set to retire

The former Munster number eight has called time on his playing career.

FORMER MUNSTER NUMBER eight James Coughlan has announced his retirement from playing professional rugby at the end of the current season.

The 36-year-old has been playing with French side Pau since 2014, becoming an important member of the Top 14 club’s squad, but has opted to hang up his boots this summer.

Coughlan will now move into a coaching role with Pau, working with the club’s academy from next season onwards.

James Coughlan Coughlan was a superb ball carrier. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

A Dolphin club man, Coughlan’s route into professional rugby was far from traditional as he earned his stripes in the club game before finally making his senior Munster debut in 2006 at the age of 25.

Coughlan became a stalwart for his native province, making 139 appearances before ex-Munster assistant coach Simon Mannix lured him to France in 2014. The number eight has been a key influence under Mannix as Pau have grown rapidly into Top 14 contenders.

Cork man Coughlan was very unlucky not to win an Ireland cap, but he signed off with a classy statement thanking those who helped him during his playing career.

“After more than 10 years and over 200 matches with Munster Rugby and Section Paloise, I have decided to retire from professional rugby,” said Coughlan.

“I would like to thank everyone that has been involved in my career to date from the coaches at school, Dolphin, Munster to everyone at Pau.

“I had a fantastic eight years at Munster and I thank everyone involved with the province – not just the coaches but the backroom staff and everyone involved in the club and of course the fans who still have a special place in my heart. I took great pride in winning the Munster Player of the Year in 2011.

“As I said when I left, to play once would have been an honour, to do it for nearly 10 years was special.

“I also have thoroughly enjoyed my three seasons in Pau, joining them when they were in Pro D2, winning promotion in my first season and leaving them as an established Top 14 side fighting for a top-four finish this season. Thank you to everyone involved with Section Paloise.

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James Coughlan Coughlan was a crucial figure for Munster.

“Simon, I would never have stepped outside the box of Munster had you not offered me the opportunity and for that I will be forever grateful.

“To my Mam and Dad, I just want to say thanks for always being there for me. Starting from walking me to Old Christians on wet September mornings to Mam trying to learn French so she could chat up French men in Montpellier. I couldn’t have done it without you. To all my family, brothers, sister, aunt, uncles and not forgetting Nana, thanks for your unwavering support.

“A special mention must go to my wife Katri also, who has supported me throughout my career through the good times and the bad times both in Ireland and also in moving our young family over to France three years ago.

“I would also like to say a big thank you to my agent, Niall Woods of Navy Blue, who has guided and advised me on every decision since 2011 and has been a constant influence and support to me.

“I’d just like to add finally that I didn’t exactly take the direct route to professional rugby. It was a very long and winding route but I always had belief that if I stayed true to myself, commit to it with everything that I had, I would achieve my dream and do the thing I loved the most for a living.

“It’s been amazing and I’ll cherish it forever. The page turns and the wheel will keep turning. I just hope I left the odd mark along the way.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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