Keith Earls releases poignant statement as he retires from all forms of rugby
“When I was young I never imagined I would get to represent my country once, never mind 101 times.”
There will be a lot of tributes paid to Keith Earls over the coming days but Andy Farrell, his coach at Ireland for the past seven years, summed it up well when he described the Limerick native as ‘a true legend of Irish rugby‘.
While it was known that Earls was retiring from international rugby, following Ireland’s World Cup exit, he today (Tuesday, October 17) confirmed that he would not be carrying on with Munster. It brings to an end a 16-year career that saw him achieve that legendary status in Munster red and Ireland green, as well as being a British & Irish Lion, on the 2009 tour.
“It has been an enormous privilege to work with him over the last seven years,” said Farrell. “A gifted and committed outside back, Keith’s influence transcends his on-field achievements, of which there were many, both for Munster and Ireland.
“Keith was also a leader and an incredibly positive force and he will be missed. On behalf of the Ireland team and management, I would like to thank Keith for his contribution to the game and wish him, his wife Edel and their family the very best of luck with the next exciting chapter in their lives.”
‘Munster has given me some of the greatest days of my life’ – Keith Earls
As news of his retirement from professional rugby was confirmed, Keith Earls released a 338-word statement that captured the essence of his journey, and the village it takes to back up one man’s journey.
“The game of rugby has given me so much and I feel privileged to have represented my home province Munster and Ireland over the course of my career,” he began. “I have always tried to be a good friend and team-mate and give all of myself to the jersey, traits inherited from my parents Ger and Sandra and sister Jenny.
“While retirement is never an easy decision, now is the right time and I feel incredibly fortunate to go out on my own terms representing Ireland on the highest stage. To all the coaches, teachers and volunteers who encouraged and guided me in Thomond, Garryowen and Young Munster and at school in St. Munchin’s College, I am indebted to you for your friendship and support over the years.
“Playing for Munster has given me some of the greatest days of my life. The victories, the heartaches, the camaraderie and the friendships with so many players, coaches and support staff over the years has positively impacted my life more than you will ever know.
“Being a Munster supporter growing up, before I even got the chance to pull on the jersey meant that I appreciated every moment to represent my province across my 202 appearances.
“I was so honoured to be a part of our URC success last season and I have no doubt that it will be a launchpad for the squad to soar even higher in the years to come.
“When I was young I never imagined I would get to represent my country once, never mind 101 times.
“Playing for Ireland meant the world to me and it has been an honour to pull on the jersey and represent our great nation. To all the Ireland coaches, players, support staff and supporters who have backed me throughout my career – thank you from the bottom of my heart.
“Finally, to my wife Edel, children Ella-May, Laurie and Emie – thank you for your unconditional love and support over the years. I couldn’t have made this journey without you.”
Keith Earls was the last remaining Munster player from the squad that won the 2008 Heineken Cup. He won multiple trophies with Munster – personal and with the team – and returned from injury to help them end an 11-year title drought by winning the United Rugby Championship, last season.
He finishes his Ireland career with 36 tries, second only to another Irish rugby legend, Brian O’Driscoll. Others that have recently stepped away from Test rugby include Johnny Sexton (Ireland), Dan Biggar (Wales) and Uini Atonio (France).