Denis Hickie announces retirement from rugby

Leinster and Ireland wing Denis Hickie has announced that he will retire from professional rugby immediately following the Rugby World Cup in the autumn.

Hickie, who to date has won 58 caps for Ireland since his try scoring debut against Wales in 1997, was yesterday named in the Ireland squad for the Rugby World Cup.

The winger has scored 29 tries so far for Ireland and on several occasions has held the Irish try scoring record, vying for the title with his Leinster colleague Brian O’Driscoll, who is also currently on 29 tries.

His abilities were further honoured with his selection for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2005.

Speaking about his decision, Hickie said, "I have had a very enjoyable and fulfilling career as a professional rugby player. I entered the senior ranks at the dawn of the professional era and benefited from all the advances made in that time.

I have now decided that the best time to end my career is immediately after the upcoming World Cup.

It is a decision that that I have not come to hastily and as a result I am content that it is both the right thing for me to do and that I am doing it at the right time.

I have enjoyed all my time as a professional player to date and I look forward to reflecting on all the aspects of my career and thanking all the people who have helped me throughout the last 11 years when the time comes but for now my focus is entirely on doing everything I can to help Ireland win the Rugby World Cup.

Finally, I want to conclude by saying that I have chosen to make this announcement now in the interest of letting Michael Cheika and all at Leinster Rugby prepare accordingly for the upcoming season."

Commenting on Hickie’s decision, Ireland Coach Eddie O’Sullivan, who is currently with the squad at their warm weather camp in the South of France, said: “I think Denis will be remembered as one of the great wingers of Irish Rugby. From my first encounter with him as Irish U-21 coach I knew he was destined for a great career with Ireland. He has always been the consummate professional as is reflected in his performances with Ireland. I wish him every success in his retirement but not before he continues to have a major impact with us at Rugby World Cup.”

Philip Browne, Chief Executive of the Irish Rugby Football Union also added to the plaudits and said: “Denis has been a wonderful servant to Leinster, Ireland and the overall game of rugby throughout his career. His natural talent and also his dedication right from the early days of professionalism has set him apart as one of Ireland’s great players. I wish him all the best in his future career plans”.

Leinster Chief Executive Michael Dawson commented: "Denis Hickie has been an outstanding ambassador for Leinster and Irish rugby since making his debut for the province back in 1996. He has gone on to become one of the province’s most decorated players of all times, amassing a total of 130 Senior appearances and his try-scoring ratio, a fraction shy of one every two games, is second to none on the world stage.

He has shown immense drive, hunger and resilience throughout his career and I know that this decision can’t have been an easy one for him to make. Obviously we are disappointed to lose the services of someone of Denis’ calibre, but everyone at Leinster Rugby accepts his decision and would like to wish him the very best of luck in his future career."

Leinster coach Michael Cheika added: "Denis has been a key figure for Leinster during my time as coach over the last two years. As one of the squad’s senior players, his influence in the development and change within our squad has been huge.

He has comeback from serious injury to make strong contributions to our team and for that we thank him. On behalf of myself and my team, I would like to acknowledge all his efforts over the course of his career and wish him well in the upcoming World Cup and for his future away from the game."

We’ll miss him. The most exciting winger we’ve had since Geogheghan. No other Irish winger in recent times would have scored this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzW5KlXF5d8

I dunno what’s going on with this. It hadn’t even occurred to me that he might retire. Thought he’d have at least one probably two more seasons for Leinster.

I could understand that O’Sullivan might have decided he’d let him go after the World Cup so that he could start building for the next cycle, but I don’t know why Leinster wouldn’t keep him on unless they feel that Kearney and Fitzgerald are better bets. If that’s the case why wouldn’t he go somewhere else? Generally rugby players have to play till the death to try and squeeze out as much money as they can. Apparently he’s still in contract too.

What’s even weirder about the timing is that Leinster have now let Lewis go to Munster. He was obviously waiting for the RWC squad to announce it so presumably he was worried it would have affected his chances of getting picked but that’s a bit of a b@stard on Leinster.

Would have thought he’d be a useful influence on Fitzgerald and Kearney as well.

Check out the ground he covers to make this tackle. He actually has to go the long way around another player and he still makes it. O’Driscoll obviously got all the plaudits for his hatrick but Hickie was superb in that game.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m47gK-qTQM

Hickie was best Irish winger of his generation. Had good pace and was unlucky not to come to be an Irish regular earlier. I think his defence may have been regarded as suspect. As someone who relies on his pace so much I can understand why he would decide to retire at end of the World Cup. Am I just imagining it or was there ever doubts about Hickie using performance enhancing substances?

thepiedpiper wrote:

Am I just imagining it or was there ever doubts about Hickie using performance enhancing substances?

I know what you’re referring to alright but no names were ever mentioned in public. Ages ago there was an unnamed international rugby player who failed a doping test (before Frankie Sheahan) and there was plenty of speculation about the guilty party. The name was never released.

Can’t find any reference to it online. It never got much publicity.

Was that in connection with an article Neil Francis wrote or something different? Was that unnamed player not a prop?

While being anxious not to muddy the waters here or cause potential legal problems for tfk I do believe it was a certain winger who has just announced his intention to retire in a few months time who failed a drug test a number of years ago.

I think Piper’s second post might be correct. It was definitely a Neil Francis article that broke the story from what I remember so if he says it was a prop then it must have been a prop.

Don’t remember ever hearing anything about Hickie, which isn’t to say there weren’t rumours circulating.

However, he was always incredibly fast, even when first capped when he was basically a whiippet and his game is based pretty much purely around his pace. Although he’s bulked up substantially since then, they all have and he’s not half as big as some of the rest of the international backs out there.

Have vague memories of the Neil Francis allusions. Was it a prop who’s played for Ulster and in France?

I don’t think Piper knows Fats.

The whole affair was a mess.

From memory: someone tested positive and the IRFU didn’t release the name. The Irish media didn’t really bother following it up either (common theme from our media sometimes - look at Sean Kelly: a couple of positive tests in the 80s but never a word in our media about it) so I think Francis was the only one to really run with it.

However no names were mentioned so it was left to speculation. At the time I think Hickie lost his place in the Irish team and the speculation was that he must have been the guilty party. There were concerns about his defence at the time though so it’s likely he was just dropped for tactical reasons but became the common name circulated off the record or something.

I know this next bit might seem like I’m relating it to the doping issue but on an entirely separate point one of the most impressive things about Hickie’s career (other than the try in the forthcoming WC Final) was how he reinvented himself as a modern winger. He was an old fashioned flier who’d hare around the outside in his early days but as the game developed and as defences and individuals got stronger he needed to add more to his game. He added bulk to be able to take a hit - not break it but not knock on - and more importantly he improved immeasurably on his running lines. Where he used to rely on pace around the outside he became a cracking option off an inside ball or on a switch because he could run far better angles. Indeed in Rome last March he was absolutely superb in his running lines every single time.

Fats wrote:

Check out the ground he covers to make this tackle. He actually has to go the long way around another player and he still makes it. O’Driscoll obviously got all the plaudits for his hatrick but Hickie was superb in that game.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m47gK-qTQM

Fats - who’s the French openside in that clip? Brilliant work from Hickie but if I was French I think I’d have wanted my 7 to stumble a bit more after offloading to disrupt Hickie’s run. I don’t think he sees him coming and I don’t think he thinks Hickie will get there but he makes a half hearted attempt at the block.

therock67 wrote:

I don’t think Piper knows Fats.

I do actually. I think I was told by pied senior. I could be wrong. Will I put up the name? I was under the impression though that more players tested positive than this player or were under suspicion and Hickie may have been one of the later.

Post edited by: thepiedpiper, at: 2007/08/15 09:02

Send me a PM with the name anyway.

therock67 wrote:

Fats wrote:

[quote]
Check out the ground he covers to make this tackle. He actually has to go the long way around another player and he still makes it. O’Driscoll obviously got all the plaudits for his hatrick but Hickie was superb in that game.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0m47gK-qTQM

Fats - who’s the French openside in that clip? Brilliant work from Hickie but if I was French I think I’d have wanted my 7 to stumble a bit more after offloading to disrupt Hickie’s run. I don’t think he sees him coming and I don’t think he thinks Hickie will get there but he makes a half hearted attempt at the block.[/quote]

I haven’t checked it out or anything, but it looks like it might be your man Benazzi, the big bruising half-Morrocan lad. Might be a bit late for him though. Not sure when he retired.

If it is him, he’d have been a canny old veteran at that stage and probably should have cut Hickie off more. Having said that, if you look where Hickie is even after he goes past him, it still doesn’t look possible to make the tackle.

I never noticed before how well O’Driscoll does there too. He comes from nowhere to catch up and while he doesn’t get to del Maso in time he does get there to clean up the loose ball and touch it down.

thepiedpiper wrote:

therock67 wrote:

[quote]I don’t think Piper knows Fats.

I do actually. I think I was told by pied senior. I could be wrong. Will I put up the name? I was under the impression though that more players tested positive than this player or were under suspicion and Hickie may have been one of the later.

Post edited by: thepiedpiper, at: 2007/08/15 09:02[/quote]

Breaking News:

A fifth century manuscript providing a description of the first person to bring christianity to ireland has been found. And this just in, it fits St Patrick.

(Laboured)

Eh not following that one at all but I don’t think it’s the name I was given anyway - or at least I can’t work it out.

Ah just got it sorry. No, way before him.