Leinster & Ireland Star Forced To Retire At 31
Leinster Rugby and the IRFU today announced that backrow Kevin McLaughlin is to retire from rugby on medical grounds.
Having sustained a concussion in the opening Guinness PRO12 game against Edinburgh Kevin was referred by the Leinster Rugby medical team to a leading neurologist, due to concerns about his increasing susceptibility to concussion and the length of recovery.
Following tests it was recommended that it would be in his best long-term interests to stop playing.
Speaking to leinsterrugby.ie the 31 year old, eight times Ireland capped back row said of his decision to retire, “It is upsetting and frustrating to have to retire when I feel I have so much left to give but it is the right decision and I am glad that our medical staff were so pro-active in encouraging me to see a neurologist and getting his expert opinion. The support I have received from the club and my team mates has been incredible and will help to soften the blow of having to having to retire from the game I love.
“It has been an absolute privilege to represent UCD, St. Mary’s, Leinster and Ireland over the years and from a rugby perspective I have no regrets. Some special memories in particular would be my first cap for Ireland in 2010 and Leinster’s PRO12 win in 2013 after having lost the previous three finals.
“The two Heineken Cups, particularly the 2012 win in Twickenham will also last long in the memory. I was lucky enough to be involved in Leinster throughout a very successful and rewarding period during which I have learned a lot about life and made lifelong friends.”
The St. Mary’s man made his Leinster debut in April 2007 and has since made a total of 115 appearances for the province, scoring four tries. He has won two Heineken Cup medals with Leinster, starting in both final wins over Northampton Saints and Ulster Rugby and has also won a Challenge Cup and three PRO12 titles.
He has played for his country eight times having made his debut against Italy in the opening game of the 2010 Six Nations. His last cap came against New Zealand in November 2013.
“I want to acknowledge the medical team at Leinster Rugby and the IRFU and the care they have provided me with over my career. Particularly the staff in Leinster who have gone above and beyond to treat and rehab me back from several injuries over the past ten years.
“We are very lucky in Leinster to have both a medical and coaching staff who put the players’ welfare ahead of everything else. I would never have enjoyed the success and the long career I did without the dedication and commitment to the players they display on a daily basis.
“I would also like to thank all the coaches who have taught me so much over my time in Leinster and Ireland. It is an exciting time for Leinster with some incredible young talent and a new coaching staff. I was delighted when my good friend and former team mate Leo became head coach as I know he is the right man to drive Leinster forward and to bring more success to the club.
Kevin also looked forward and acknowledged the role of the players’ union, IRUPA, in the transition.
“It is a daunting time for any rugby player to have to start afresh in a new career but I have been lucky enough to have the support and guidance of IRUPA at all stages of my time as a Leinster player and I think this will stand to me as I look for new opportunities in the next few months.”
Leinster Rugby Head Coach Leo Cullen was quick to praise Kevin and his career in blue and in green.
“Kevin is one of the most selfless players in our squad. He is the consummate pro and always put the team first. His record speaks for itself in terms of what he has achieved but outside of that his influence will live on in Leinster beyond his 115 caps for the players that were lucky enough to have worked and played with him day in, day out.
“He is a very popular member of the squad both on and off the pitch and thankfully Kevin is open to the possibility of helping out with us behind the scenes certainly in the short term and again I think that’s an indication of the esteem with which he is held within the group. We wish him all the best for the future.”