The Irish Rugby Football Union is pleased to announce that Donncha O’Callaghan has signed a new Ireland international contract that will see him remain in Ireland to play his rugby with Munster for the next three seasons until 2014.
O’Callaghan, who will line out for Ireland this Saturday against Samoa to win his 65th cap, made his international debut against Wales in Cardiff in 2003 and since then has become one of the most important cogs in the Ireland team. He represented both Munster and Ireland schools before he won an U19 World Championship with Ireland alongside current Ireland team members Brian O’Driscoll and Paddy Wallace.
His senior international career has seen him selected for two Rugby World Cup squads in 2003 and 2007 and was part of the sides that won five triple crowns, one RBS Six Nations Championship and Ireland’s second ever Grand Slam in 2009. His Munster career has seen him win two Heineken Cups, two Magners league titles as well as a Celtic Cup.
Commenting on the announcement, Ireland Coach Declan Kidney said, “It is very important that we continue to retain players of the caliber of Donncha in Ireland and I am delighted that he has made the decision to remain here. I have had the pleasure to work with Donncha through many years of his career and seen him develop into the top class player that he is now. His professionalism and work ethic is second to none to the point where he is highly respected by coaches, players, opposition and supporters in equal measure.”
Donncha O’Callaghan said, “As players we are so well looked after by both the national and provincial management teams and I feel incredibly privileged to be able to play the sport I love for both Ireland and Munster. Munster is my home province and the decision to continue my career here was an easy one when you consider the standard of players in the squad and the incredible support I have received from both the fans and my family. My focus now is to try and perform as well as I can to help Munster and Ireland to be successful.”
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said, “It has always been the Union’s desire to keep our best players within the provincial teams so as to allow us to monitor their development. In an increasingly aggressive market place with overseas clubs constantly looking to take players out of Ireland, their retention is one of our top priorities.”
Munster Coach Tony McGahan said, “We’re obviously delighted that Donnacha has agreed an extension of his contract. I believe it’s a massive boost for Munster given the strong interest there was in him from overseas clubs with far greater financial resources than Munster. He’s a hugely ambitious competitive character and I think this sends a clear message concerning that ambition and where it will be best served. Here in Ireland with Munster. I think it’s also a very encouraging sign for younger players to see a player of his calibre and universal appeal showing the loyalty and commitment he has done by agreeing this new deal. I look forward continuing to work with him. This is certainly good news for Munster Rugby.”
Born: March 24th, 1979
Debut: V Wales 22/03/2003
Debut: V Ulster 4/09/1998
British & Irish Lions
Debut: V Argentina, 23/5/2005
Appearances: 12 (2 tests V NZ in 2005, 1 Test V South Africa in 2009)