With Leinster knocked out of Europe and the PRO14 already put to bed, this weekend marked the end involvement of Rob Kearney’s and Irish Rugby as a player. While he hasn’t officially hung up the boots just yet, it’s the end of an era for Ireland’s most decorated rugby player.

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As per the IRFU ‘His list of achievements for Leinster and Ireland is unmatched and includes two Grand Slams in four Six Nations titles, four European titles, six Pro14 medals and a Challenge Cup. Throw in a European Player of the Year award in 2012 and two Lions tours and you have a career worthy of the history books.’

Kearney and Fergus McFadden were kept on past the expiration of their contracts so they could see out the 2019/2020 season, and at 34, Kearney’s retirement is imminent if not immediate. With an autobiography set to be released shortly, it looks more likely than not that the star of the 2009 British and Irish Lions series will be calling it a day.

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Former sparring partner referee Nigel Owens took to Twitter to congratulate him and also give him a good-natured dig regarding their on-field relationship and what Kearney might decide to do with his future.

“One of the great fullbacks and bloke off the field too. Was always a pleasure to ref. Often checking if I was sure I had the call correct. Best wishes for the future & on a brilliant career. Maybe refin next Rob? You’ve been doing it part-time for years anyway”

He wouldn’t be the first ex-professional to become a referee. Could we see Kearney on the other side of the whistle in the years to come?

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