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Ulster Confirm Prop Saunderson’s Retirement

Ulster Confirm Prop Saunderson’s Retirement

Young prop George Saunderson is pictured in action for Queen's University in the Energia All-Ireland League a couple of seasons ago ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ulster Rugby have confirmed that Academy prop George Saunderson will retire from professional rugby with immediate effect on medical advice.

Saunderson is a former pupil of Sullivan Upper School, earning his place in the Ulster Rugby Academy after impressing with Ulster ‘A’ and the Ulster Under-19s.

The 22 year-old front rower played for Ballynahinch RFC in Energia All-Ireland League Men’s Division 1A, and has also played for Queen’s University Belfast RFC.

Following concussions sustained this season, the talented forward has been advised that he should retire from rugby.

Commenting on the announcement, Saunderson said: “I’m sad to be ending my professional rugby career at this stage. It was a tough decision to make but ultimately, it’s the best decision for my long-term health.

“I have loved my time in the Ulster Rugby Academy and playing club rugby with Ballynahinch and Queen’s University. I also want to thank Sullivan Upper School, where I have great memories of playing school rugby and being captain of the team.

“Also, representing Ireland at the U20 Six Nations was a proud moment for me and I’ll cherish those memories.

“I would like to thank all my team-mates, coaches, and the staff who have helped me down the years, and my parents and family for all of their support over the years.

“I wish everyone at Ulster well for the future, and will be cheering the guys on in the years to come.”

His potential was highlighted when he was selected for Ireland Under-20s’ Six Nations squad in 2021. He put in a try-scoring performance against Italy.

Alongside his Academy rugby, George has been actively coaching at his former school, helping with the Under-14 and Medallion teams.

Speaking about the young prop’s retirement, Ulster Rugby Academy Manager Gavin Hogg stated: “With George’s decision to retire from professional rugby, I would like to wish him all the very best for his future, on behalf of everyone in the Academy and at Ulster.

“George has showed over the past number of years that he is a talented prop, who had the potential to make an impact in the senior Men’s side in the future.

“Unfortunately he’s had a difficult time with regards to injury, and has made this decision on the back of the medical advice.

“We are sad that his playing career has come to an end prematurely and will miss the great qualities George possesses.

“Over the past three years in the Academy, we have witnessed George mature into a self-driven and motivated person who has displayed great leadership skills. We have no doubt these traits will transfer into future endeavours, leading to success with whatever he chooses to do in life.”