Connacht Rugby regret to confirm that scrum-half Conor O’Loughlin is being forced to retire from rugby through injury.
The 28-year old former Ireland U21 scrum-half has been troubled with a hip injury that has curtailed his involvement with the Province this season.
Conor was part of Michael Bradley’s 2002/03 Irish U21 side alongside Connacht team-mates John Muldoon and Keith Matthews. He was awarded his first Connacht contract following the U21 World Cup:
“I was studying Business Information Systems in Cork when Brads (Michael Bradley) called me and offered me a full time contract so I jumped at the opportunity. I transferred the course to NUIG and finished it here in Galway.”
Conor’s first game for Connacht was against London Irish in August ‘03 and he scored his first try later that week against a star-studded Munster team that boasted the likes of Keith Wood, Paul O’Connell and Peter Stringer. His first competitive game was against the Cardiff Blues playing alongside Eric Elwood, Michael Swift and Tim Allnutt and he went on to earn 22 caps that season.
A shoulder injury sustained against Montpellier sidelined the Athlone-man for a number of months in ’04 but he recovered well and consistent form and regular game-time with Connacht earned a cap for Ireland ‘A’ against the England Saxons.
“I’ve played in some great matches over the years, playing Harlequins in the Sportsground in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup in ’04 was special. That was my first time playing in front of such a huge home crowd and the atmosphere was amazing. Representing my country for Ireland ‘A’ was another proud occasion for me”
With 97 caps to his name O’Loughlin is one of Connacht’s longest serving players
“Growing up in Connacht, playing underage, you have a lot of loyalty to the Province and over the years you grow more and more attached to it. Working with Brads was great; he really helped develop my game and was probably the biggest influence in my rugby career. I’ve really enjoyed the last couple of years here; the camaraderie in the squad is fantastic and Eric (Elwood) and his management team are doing some great work with the lads and they’re definitely going places.”
Conor sustained an injury to his hip in December 2006 against Montpellier and consequently his hip has deteriorated to a point where he can no longer play rugby
“I’ve exhausted every medical avenue at this stage and I’ve been advised that I can no longer continue my career as a professional rugby player. It’s taken me a while to get my head around it but everyone’s been really helpful and supportive, especially my family and friends, and I’m very grateful to them for that.”
“Rugby’s been my life for the last 8 years so I’m going to have to look at my options now, I’ve completed a Masters of Finance, my CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Level 1 exam and I’m sitting the Level 2 in June so there are options there for me in a role outside of rugby. I’ve no regrets at all; I’ve been living the dream for the last 8 years and I’m sure I’ll come back to it at some stage in some form or another but for now I’m looking forward to the challenge of something different”
Connacht Head Coach Eric Elwood spoke about the news:
“We’re all very disappointed that Conor can no longer play, he’s been a great servant to Connacht Rugby over the years and will be a massive loss to the club. The manner in which Conor has dealt with his injury is remarkable and it is a huge shame that Connacht are losing a home-grown player of his talents. Conor has shown great loyalty to Connacht and it’s sad to see such a successful career cut short by injury. I’m confident Conor will excel at whatever he moves onto and we wish him the very best of luck in his future endeavours, the door will always be open for him to return to us in some capacity.”