Top 14

Ireland legend O'Connell retires

Ireland legend Paul O'Connell has announced his retirement after failing to recover from a hamstring injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup.

The 36-year-old tore the tendon from his bone during a pool-stage fixture against France, which brought a premature end to his international career.

O'Connell had played his entire club career with Munster, but was set to run out for Top 14 giants Toulon this season.

However, the former Ireland captain has been forced to admit defeat in his battle against injury.

"It is with deep regret that I have decided to retire from professional rugby following medical advice. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all at Rugby Club Toulonnais for their understanding and support over the past few months," he wrote in a farewell statement on the Irish Rugby Football Union's (IRFU) official website.

"Since sustaining the injury at the World Cup I have been fully focused on returning to fitness and starting an exciting new chapter for both myself and my family in Toulon. Unfortunately this will no longer be possible.

"I have been blessed to be a professional rugby player for over 14 years and to be part of Munster and Ireland teams that have experienced success. 

"I have played with some of the best players to ever line out in the red of Munster and the green of Ireland and have had the privilege of captaining my country.

"I would like to thank those at Young Munster RFC, Munster Rugby, the IRFU and Lions Rugby who have supported me over the course of my playing career."

O'Connell earned a reputation as one of the best locks in the world and proved a talismanic skipper for club and country.

On the international stage, O'Connell was a three-time winner of the Six Nations and was part of the side that achieved the Grand Slam in 2009.

He made 108 appearances for his country and also earned seven Test caps for the British and Irish Lions.

O'Connell also enjoyed success with Munster, winning the Heineken Cup on two occasions in 2006 and 2008.

He also won the Celtic League, now Pro12, on three occasions during his time with the Irish club.