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Dragons statement: Richard Hibbard retires with immediate effect

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

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Former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard has penned an emotional farewell after it was confirmed by current club Dragons that the 38-year-old has retired from playing with immediate effect. The forward, who was capped on 38 occasions by his country and another three times for the Lions, joined the Dragons in 2018 following stints at the Ospreys and Gloucester but an injury will now see him hang up his boots. 

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Dragons boss Dean Ryan said: “Richard Hibbard has been an important figure during my time at Dragons, both his efforts on the field and his work developing youngsters within our squad. His contribution to Welsh rugby has been enormous over the years, especially when you consider what he achieved and the impact he made for Wales and the British and Irish Lions. 

“I’m sure he will be greatly missed by supporters of our game, with whom he always had a great affinity. He leaves us with our best wishes and Richard and his family will always be warmly welcomed back to Rodney Parade in the future.”

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Hibbard’s career took off when he joined the Ospreys in 2004, having previously played for Swansea, and he went on to make over 175 appearances for the region. He also enjoyed a spell in the English Premiership with Gloucester, making over a century of appearances, before moving back to Wales to join Dragons. 

Hibbard won a first call-up to the Wales squad to tour Argentina in 2006, winning his first two caps on that trip. He was also selected on the 2013 Lions tour to Australia. “I have really enjoyed my time at Dragons and it’s exciting to see the young front row talent and hookers coming through the ranks now – that’s a real positive for the region,” said Hibbard, who had hoped he could play on until he was 40

RICHARD HIBBARD RETIREMENT STATEMENT
“Well, I guess I’m very sad to say that, unfortunately, my body has finally said enough is enough. Disappointingly, it’s at such a young age of 38! What a ride it has been. I’ve been lucky enough to do everything I have wanted, and more, in this great game. 

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“While trying to write something to explain how lucky I have been to play the game I have absolutely adored for such a long, long time, I think of all the people I have met along the way who I would like to thank, but genuinely it’s been so many. 

“From the boys I have been lucky enough to have played with, each and every coach who slightly changed my outlook, the physios and doctors sticking me back together, the backroom staff who make all the cogs go around and all the kit men I plagued – even though they made it out that they pay for the kit themselves! Also, of course, my friend and agent of 20 years Rhyd, and all my family and friends.

“Something that is truly special in rugby is the bond you make with the ‘brothers’ who you go to war with every week, and not just the team on the Saturday, the whole squad, every session leading to the weekend. During every win, loss, winning streak, losing streak, trophies, injuries, the boys kick you when you are down and kick you even harder when you are up. That is what you do it all for, that slightly weird friendship. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

“But the most important person who I want and need to thank is my wife, Louise. Everything great that is built is always from a strong foundation and by God she has been mine. Through injuries, selections, travel, the day after games, grumpiness, Lou has been the reason I have been lucky enough to do what I have done in rugby. Big thanks also to my kids – Tiella, Summer and Jaxson – who also help me get through everything.  

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“Bit long-winded I know, but the only ones left to thank are the supporters – Ospreys, Gloucester, Dragons, Wales, Lions, Barbarians – you have all been immense. It has been a pleasure and an honour to get battered in your name! So, a big thank you too.”

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