SA-born Ireland star CJ Stander announces shock retirement

play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
CJ Stander in action for Ireland. (Photo by Paul Devlin/Sportsfile via Getty Images)
CJ Stander in action for Ireland. (Photo by Paul Devlin/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Ireland No 8 CJ Stander has announced that he will retire from all forms of rugby at the end of the current European season.

The 30-year-old had just made his 50th appearance for Ireland against Scotland in the Six Nations this past weekend.

He cited family reasons as the main driver behind the decision.

"All professional sports people are told 'you will know when the time is right to hang up your boots'. It's a sentiment one cannot fully comprehend until that day arrives. For me, that time has come.

"During the lockdown, I did a stock-take of what matters most to me in life. My faith, family and this incredible game I have played since I was six years old easily topped the list," Stander said in a statement on Tuesday.

South African-born Stander started his professional career at the Bulls in 2010, before moving to Munster in Ireland for whom he has played 150 matches. He also played one Test for the British & Irish Lions against the All Blacks in 2017.

READ | 50-cap 'Irishman' Stander ... one of our finest exports

Stander also highlighted a desire to raise his family in South Africa.

"I came to the realisation that my commitment to rugby has started to take an unfair toll on my family, who both in Limerick and South Africa have made considerable sacrifices for more than 25 years to allow me to live my dream.

"I am not saddened by my decision. I've had a full and utterly enjoyable rugby career, and I can now look back on a journey that offered me rewards, memories and surprises beyond anything I could have scripted for myself. I wouldn't change a thing.

"The 150 matches I played for Munster were some of the most precious and formative experiences of my life. My blood will remain Munster red long after I have said my goodbyes to the people of Limerick."

Stander added that Munster and the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) had tried to get him to change his mind.

"It was during a freezing training session at Munster towards the end of 2020 that I just knew I had entered the final stretch of my career. I asked myself whether I was still enjoying this enough to earn the continued support of Munster and Ireland, and to justify the sacrifices my family was making. From a performance perspective, the answer was yes.

"But I always had the intent to retire while I was still playing some of my best rugby. I also knew I wanted my daughter Everli to grow up around her family in South Africa. When all these intentions and considerations intercepted each other during that training session, I discussed the implications thereof with coach Johann van Graan and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

"I deeply appreciate that they tried to persuade me otherwise, but I knew it was time. I will be playing my final matches as a professional athlete with contentment and gratitude for what was and for what lies ahead in the next chapter of my life."

He concluded: "As I now shift my focus squarely back to my family, I do so hoping that I'm leaving the Irish jersey in an even better space than when I first inherited it.

"Ireland has enormous talent breaking through the ranks, and it is now time for me to step back and allow a new generation of players to answer Ireland's call."

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Voting Booth
Is the decision to give Aiden Markram the Proteas T20 captaincy the right one?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Yes! Markram is a natural leader
70% - 235 votes
No! He should have been left to focus on his batting
8% - 28 votes
I'm not sure yet. Let's see what results he brings.
22% - 74 votes
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.