Source: James Crombie/INPHO
LEINSTER’S GORDON D’ARCY will retire from rugby at the end of October, calling time on his 17-year career.
The veteran centre, 35, has agreed a four-month contract extension that will see him continue until the end of the Rugby World Cup before hanging up his boots.
D’Arcy said: “I am so proud, fortunate and honoured to have represented my province and country for 17 seasons but I am leaving on my terms which is how everyone would wish to end their professional rugby careers.
A teenage D’Arcy first pulled on the Leinster blue in September 1998 against Scarlets, and has gone on to win a record 260 caps for the province.
As one half of a formidable midfield tandem alongside Brian O’Driscoll, he was a central part of Leinster’s three Heineken Cup wins as well as four Celtic League/Pro12 titles.
He also won 81 Irish caps, the crowning moment of his international career coming in 2009 when he helped Declan Kidney’s side to Grand Slam glory.
In an open letter on Friday morning, he thanked all of those involved in developing his career from his youth days at Wexford Wanderers through to provincial and international level.
It has been “a privilege” to be part of Leinster’s turn to professionalism and rise to the top of European rugby, he said.
“Games in Donnybrook of a Friday night in front of a couple of thousand spectators have been replaced with great days in Croke Park, in the Aviva Stadium and of course more often than not in the RDS.
“The move to the RDS from Donnybrook. The new facilities in UCD. Marque signings and the retention of home grown players. An Academy system to rival any other in world rugby. At home or away, we took on the giants of European rugby and we had great days.
“I am proud to have played a small part in that evolution.”
D’Arcy also called on fans to support head coach Matt O’Connor and his assistant Leo Cullen as they chart their way through a time of “great transition.”
He continued: “In an ideal world I would have loved to have been bowing out after a Champions Cup Final and who knows maybe even a PRO12 Final, but unfortunately as players we have not achieved the targets that we set ourselves at the start of the season, in particular in the league.
“However, I have no doubt that Leinster is in the best possible hands with Matt and Leo at the helm and our recent performance in the Champions Cup Semi-Final reminded me just what this club and this team is capable of.
“Let’s not forget that it is only 12 months since Matt delivered a PRO12 title at his first attempt and that we have progressed to the Quarters and now the Semis in Europe.
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