Retirement call from Fitzpatrick

Date published: April 16 2015

Ulster and Ireland tighthead prop Declan Fitzpatrick is to retire from rugby union on medical grounds, following "a number of concussive episodes".

The 31-year-old played 98 times for Ulster and made seven international appearances for Ireland, three of which were against the All Blacks.

Fitzpatrick also represented Ireland Wolfhounds on nine occasions.

In recent seasons, however, Fitzpatrick experienced a number of concussive episodes. His symptoms were progressively slower to resolve and he was referred to a leading neurologist by the medical team at his PRO12 side.

Following tests it was recommended that it would be in his best long-term interests to stop playing.

"While it's not an easy decision to hang up the boots, I can look back with fondness at nine fantastic seasons at Ulster Rugby," said the prop.

"It was a huge honour to have represented my country and an enormous privilege to pull on that green shirt. I have played alongside some brilliant individuals and have made friendships that will extend long into my retirement from rugby.

"I want to thank the medical teams at Ulster Rugby and the IRFU for the care that they have given me. My symptoms continue to improve and I know the advice that I received is in the best interests of my long-term health.

"Finally, I would like to thank the staff at IRUPA who have been a great support in recent seasons and who have helped me make the transition from playing rugby to my new job as a quantity surveyor."

Ulster's team manager, Bryn Cunningham, hailed Fitzpatrick's distinguished playing record, adding: "Declan has been a tremendous servant for both Ulster and Ireland. Having played almost 100 times for the province and seven times for Ireland is evidence of a long and successful rugby career.

"He will be missed both on and off the pitch and I know everyone connected at Ulster Rugby – players, management and supporters, will wish him well in his retirement."