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Former Wales and Lions hooker Richard Hibbard announces retirement

Richard Hibbard

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions hooker Richard Hibbard has announced his retirement with immediate effect.

Hibbard, who turned 38 in December, was still playing his club rugby with the Dragons, but has revealed that he has had to call time on his professional career, which started back in 2004 with the Ospreys.

The former Wales international announced his decision through a statement with the Dragons and described himself as lucky for having had the opportunity to play professionally for so long.

‘I’ve been lucky enough to do everything I’ve wanted, and more.’

“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’s been. I’ve been lucky enough to do everything I’ve wanted, and more, in this great game,” Hibbard wrote.

“While trying to write something to explain how lucky I’ve been to play the game I’ve absolutely adored, for such a long, long time, I think of all the people I’ve met along the way, who I’d like to thank, but genuinely it’s been so many. From the boys I’ve 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’s 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, they kick you when you’re down, and kick you even harder when you’re up. That’s 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’s been mine. Through injuries, selections, travel, the day after games, grumpiness, Lou’s been the reason I’ve been lucky enough to do what I’ve done in rugby. Big thanks also to my kids – Tiella, Summer and Jaxson – who also help me get through everything.

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

Dragons director of rugby Dean Ryan pays tribute to Richard Hibbard.

Dean Ryan, the Dragons’ director if rugby, paid tribute to the retiring Hibbard and thanked him for his service to the club.

“Hibbz has been an important figure during my time at Dragons, both his efforts on the field and his work developing the youngsters in our squad,” Ryan said.

“His contribution to Welsh rugby has also been enormous over the years, especially when you consider what he achieved and the impact he made for Wales and the British & Irish Lions.

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

Hibbard won 38 caps for Wales, three caps for the Lions on their 2013 tour of Australia, played for the Ospreys 175 times, for Gloucester 100 times and 60 times for the Dragons, in a professional career that spanned over 17 years.

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