Leinster Rugby hooker James Tracy has this morning announced he has been forced to retire from professional rugby on medical grounds due to a neck injury he suffered in April 2022. Despite his best efforts and that of the Leinster Rugby medical team to get back playing again, that has not been possible.
31-year-old Tracy won 141 caps for Leinster in a stellar career spanning ten seasons, and was also capped six times by Ireland.
The Kildare native won a Champions Cup medal in 2018, coming off the bench in the final against Racing 92 in Bilbao, and has four PRO14 titles and two British & Irish cups to his name.
Tracy issued a statement through leinsterrugby.ie this morning, where he said, “Today is a day of reflection and gratitude.
“Playing for Joe, Leo and Stu, Leinster Rugby, the 12 counties it represents and my country, it has been a tremendous honour.
“I have learnt so much from each coach and can’t thank them enough for believing in me. During my ten seasons as a Leinster player, I’ve pursued success and became obsessed with winning, while being lucky enough to prepare and train with the highest calibre of players and backroom staff. It has been an honour to represent my Leinster family and all of the supporters.
“I say this with a heavy heart: I am retiring from rugby as result of injury. I cherished every moment of my career, and it has been such a blessing to play the game for as long as I have.
“I look forward to next season, but this time with the sole focus of being a great husband to Ashley and father to my children Bay and Riley.”
The much-respected hooker, also acknowledged his family and the clubs, school and coaches that have played such an important role in his development as a player.
“My mum and dad provided me with the perfect combination of love and discipline and showed me what hard work and sacrifice looks like. All that I am, and everything I have done, is because of them. I have always strived to make them proud and am forever grateful for everything they do for me and my sisters.
“My sisters have each greatly helped me in a variety of ways. I owe you both a great deal and feel very fortunate to have you as family. To Sara-Jane and Leanne, thank you, and I love you both dearly.”
Tracy, who came through the Leinster Rugby age grade programme, started his rugby journey with Naas RFC. He later captained Newbridge College and played with UCD in the All-Ireland League.
He made his Leinster Rugby debut in November 2012 against the Ospreys while still in the Academy, and over the next few seasons would play a pivotal role in the progress made by the club under Leo Cullen.
In the 2015/16 season, he made his Champions Cup debut, on the way to 13 appearances, and that led to selection in the Ireland squad and a try-scoring debut against Canada in the November internationals.
Tracy was a crucial part of the double-winning success of 2017/18 playing in both the European and the domestic finals.
His last appearance for Leinster Rugby was in April of this year against Connacht Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup.
Leinster Rugby head coach, Leo Cullen, said, “It is always a sad day when a player has to retire early due to injury, so we were all gutted to hear the news that James is being forced to hang up his boots.
“JT was incredibly diligent throughout his career and was always looking at ways to add to what the group was delivering, both on and off the field. It was his attention to detail – not many spent more time in the analysis room – that served James and Leinster so well as he played a huge role in the success of the team over the past number of seasons.
“Many of you will have seen the commitment that JT delivered on the field, but he was also incredibly giving of his time off the field and he has been a brilliant role model for our younger players.
“We would all like to wish James, Ashley, and their young family every success in the next phase of their lives and we hope to see them all at a Leinster game at the RDS, Aviva or somewhere further afield in the future.
“We cherish the fact that we were able to share in some great experiences together that will live long in the memory.”
Everyone at Leinster Rugby wishes James the very best with his retirement and wishes himself, Ashley and their family all the best of luck for the future.