Ireland full-back Jones retires

Date published: October 28 2015

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Munster and Ireland full-back Felix Jones has been forced to retire from rugby on medical grounds, it was confirmed.

Having most recently sustained a neck injury during the Round 3 PRO12 encounter against Glasgow Warriors at Thomond Park Jones has been advised to retire from rugby.

The 28-year-old has made 90 appearances for the province, scoring ten tries.

In joining Munster and Shannon RFC in 2009 after two years with the Leinster Academy, Jones immediately adjusted to his new environment and quickly established himself as a household name in the province.

His move south also came after a starring role as Ireland 'A' full-back in the Churchill Cup and the 'Red Army' were enthused at the prospect of seeing the former Seapoint RFC, Old Belvedere RFC and St Andrew's College man don the red jersey.

In making his debut against Glasgow Warriors in September 2009, the same opposition he was to play his final game against, the Sandycove-native impressed and went on to make the number 15 jersey his own in the latter stages of the 2010/11 season, winning the Magners League title against Leinster in Thomond Park in May 2011.

Selection for Ireland's World Cup warm-up games followed and he made his international debut against Scotland in Murrayfield in August 2011. A former Ireland U20's Grand Slam winner and 7s international Jones made 13 appearances for Ireland and was part of this year's Six Nations Championship winning squad.

The full-back also made five appearances for Ireland 'A' and captained the Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons at Irish Independent Park earlier this year.

A member of the senior playing group and known for his leadership qualities, Jones was appointed the Munster captaincy for the first time during the 2014/15 season and has gone on to lead the province on six successful occasions, most recently captaining the side on his final outing in Thomond Park. 

The player himself highlights the honour of leading Munster to victory against Leinster in the home and away fixtures last season as a memory he will cherish.

He said: "Those two games were of particular meaning to me. I say it with the upmost respect to Leinster as the derby fixture has always been, and will always be, one of the biggest rivalries in world rugby. Having come from Leinster and then to be asked to captain Munster for those games is something I will always be immensely proud of." 

Jones is held in high regard amongst his peers and this was evidenced further over the summer during a Munster supporters Q&A with Paul O'Connell. The Ireland captain name-checked Jones as "one of the greatest players that has ever played for Munster" and referred to the full-back's values, drive, attitude and mental strength in describing his team-mate and friend.

Commenting on his early retirement, Jones said: "It is still unthinkable to believe I will never play another game of rugby. Although I have tried to round myself as an individual through education and other interests, I have always had one driving purpose in my life and that was to play rugby. 

"I'm grateful I could do that in Munster. That feeling of walking out the tunnel in front of a packed Thomond Park is something I will never forget. To accept I will not play with my teammates again is beyond upsetting. I'm lucky to have played with so many great players, but rugby has given me something better and that is the people who are now life-long friends. 

"I thank all the coaches I have been lucky enough to learn from and I look forward to seeing the development of our squad over the coming seasons.

"The guidance I have received from the medical teams in Munster and Ireland has been unfaltering. I would also like to acknowledge the consultants I have dealt with here and further abroad.

"I'm indebted to everyone who has helped me throughout my career from Seapoint my home club, Old Belvedere, Shannon and all the way up to representing Ireland. Without doubt the proudest moment of my career was being given the privilege to win my first cap for my country.

"It would be remiss of me not to mention the extensive support I have received from IRUPA not only at this moment in time but throughout my career also. I would encourage all players to engage with their players union.

"Finally, I would like to thank my family and close friends for their undying support on and off the pitch. I will draw upon this over the coming weeks as the situation presents itself as a nervous yet exciting junction in my life." 

Munster head coach Anthony Foley added: "We are all hugely disappointed for Felix. He was a leading example in the way he applied himself through his commitment, work-rate and attention to detail.

"For a player to come in, embody everything that is Munster and have such a presence within the group he will be sorely missed on and off the field. We are very grateful for Felix's immense contribution over the last six years and wish him all the best for the future."

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