Seán Cronin has announced his decision to retire from rugby at the end of the current season.
he 35-year-old hooker from Leinster has won 72 caps for Ireland and made 204 appearances for Leinster since making his debut in October 2011 after moving from Connacht.
His first try came later that month in his European debut against Montpellier.
This started a remarkable try-scoring run that has seen Cronin cross the whitewash in the Leinster blue 45 times to date.
The Limerick native has won two Heineken Champions Cup medals, one Challenge Cup medal and six PRO12/14 titles and was named Player of the Year in 2015.
After his Ireland debut in 2009, he became a key figure, being part of the 2014 and 2015 Six Nations winning squad and the 2018 Grand Slam winning squad, capping that triumph with a crucial bonus point try-in finals win over Scotland.
Cronin joins Leinster teammates Dan Leavy and Devin Toner and former Leinster man Seán O’Brien in announcing recent retirement plans and will become head coach of the St. Mary’s RFC next season.
“After 14 years I can confirm this will be my last season playing professional rugby,” Cronin said in a statement on leinsterrugby.ie.
“It’s been a unique journey for me, starting in Limerick many years ago, traveling to Galway to set my sights on playing professionally and ending in Dublin where it’s been an incredible 11 years with so many great days in blue and were green.
“I’ve been blessed to experience so many of these great days in my career.
“As in any profession, you mix the highs with the lows, but this is how I turned those lows around, which I look back on with great pride and appreciation.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to do something I love professionally and this would not have been possible along the way without the support of so many people who believed in my potential and gave me the opportunity to be successful in the game .
“Rugby has been an integral part of my life from a young age, from my father’s playing with Richmond RFC in Limerick to mini-rugby on Sunday mornings.
“I continued to play with my school Ardscoil Rís, initially as a full-back but then I was moved to the front row under Dessie Harty’s perceptive eye where he thought I would be a better fit and how right he was!
“After school I joined Munster Academy under the tutelage of Ian Costello while also playing senior rugby with Shannon. I was incredibly lucky to win an AIL title with Shannon at the age of 20. We had a great group of guys. I loved those years and I look back on that time with great joy.
“The professional side of my career has been a different journey than most but for me one I look back on with great pride as I’ve experienced some amazing clubs with great coaches, teammates and players across all three teams.
“I am very grateful to Michael Bradley who gave me my first professional contract at Connacht where I had a great three years developing as a young professional rugby player.
“Leinster has been my home and my family’s home for over 10 years. I have enjoyed every minute of the trip and spent some fantastic days at Leinster Blue.
“Twickenham in 2012, Bilbao and the Aviva in 2018 and countless memories of the RDS Arena too many to list.
“However, the reason for my 200th international match in February of this year clearly stands out at the RDS. Finn and Saoirse, who were with me, made for a very special day.
“To everyone at Leinster Rugby, from Mick Dawson, Guy Easterby, Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster onwards, thank you for your support on and off the field during this time.
“To all the staff and medics in the back room, thank you, especially Garreth Farrell who I’m sure is the one person most excited to see my back!
“To the OLSC, thank you for all the support you have given not only to me as a player, but most importantly to my wife and three children.
“To my team-mates, I’ve had the pleasure of playing with some of the greatest players to ever grace a rugby pitch and that’s why I feel privileged and hope that success continues this season.
“Finally, I cannot thank my wife Claire enough, who has helmed the ship for 15 years.
“The sacrifices you have made to help me succeed both on and off the pitch are a testament to the person you are and I hope now I can start to repay all of that, what you have done for me in the years to come.
“To my parents, brothers, in-laws and family who have traveled the world to watch me play, I hope you enjoyed all the great days and I made you proud.
“I’m excited to see what the future will bring. Next season I will take on the role of head coach at St. Mary’s College RFC where I look forward to developing my coaching aspirations and continuing my education in finance but most of all spending time with my family.”
Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen added: “Seán – or Nugget as he’s known to us here in Leinster – has had a not just at Leinster Rugby but at every club he’s played for and of course Ireland left an incredible legacy.
“I’ve been fortunate to have played and slept with Nugget over the years, and more recently to coach him, and he will definitely go down in history as one of the great characters. He will be greatly missed.
“In his time at Leinster I guess you could say he broke with the mold of how a modern hooker should play and what her role should be. In 204 appearances for Leinster he has 45 tries for his name, which speaks for itself, but it was also about what he brought to the wider community.
“He has represented Ireland 72 times and has been a huge part of those successful teams including a Grand Slam in 2018. All in all he has played over 330 professional games for Munster, Connacht, Leinster and Ireland and has been a brilliant asset to the local community here since his arrival in 2011.
“It has also been brilliant to see Sean taking the coaching path with St Mary’s where he will be able to share some of his knowledge from the extensive experience he has gained.
“We wish Seán, Claire and their children Finn, Cillian and Saoirse all the best in the years to come.”
https://www.independent.ie/sport/rugby/leinsters-sean-cronin-confirms-retirement-at-end-of-season-ive-been-blessed-to-experience-so-many-great-days-41570170.html Seán Cronin confirms retirement from rugby at end of season: ‘I’ve been blessed to have had so many great days’