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Lions back row Sean O'Brien barred from rugby return

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Eoin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Former Ireland back row Sean O’Brien has been told he will not be allowed to play for his home town club due to ‘safety concerns’.


O’Brien, who retired from professional rugby at the end of last season with London Irish, had intended on playing for Tullow RFC in his native County Carlow.

However, the IRFU have denied his request, citing safety concerns.

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Regulations mean that no player can play junior rugby within two seasons have having played rugby for the full-season team of a professional outfit.

According to the regulations: ‘All players who have played international (including 7’s), provincial, or professional rugby in any jurisdiction for the Senior full team, in the current or last 2 preceding seasons shall be ineligible to participate in any Competitions.’

It effectively means the 6’1, 108kg O’Brien won’t be able to play junior rugby for the next two seasons. Given O’Brien’s age and injury profile – which dramatically changed the way he played towards the end of his professional career – the denial of the application seems severe.

O’Brien presumably wanted to continue playing the sport alongside his new role with his alma mater, Leinster, who re-signed him as a contact skills coach ahead of the start of the coming season.


The 35-year-old left the province as one of their most decorated players, having come through their academy system and having played 126 times for Leinster since his debut in 2008 against the then Cardiff Blues.

The ‘Tullow Tank’ made his Ireland debut in the RDS Arena in November 2009 against Fiji and won 54 Ireland caps scoring six tries in total. He was a member of the Ireland 2015 Six Nations-winning squad and partook in two tours with the British and Irish Lions, winning 11 caps for the famous side.

OBrien’s career achievements also include him being named European player of the year in 2011.


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