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Rory Best officially announces retirement from rugby

Heineken Champions Cup, Round 5, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 12/1/2019
Ulster vs Racing 92
Ulster's Rory Best after the game
Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Heineken Champions Cup, Round 5, Kingspan Stadium, Belfast 12/1/2019 Ulster vs Racing 92 Ulster's Rory Best after the game Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 17/11/2018 Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks Ireland's Rory Best celebrates winning with his sons Richie and Ben, daughter Penny and his wife Jodie Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 17/11/2018 Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks Ireland's Rory Best celebrates winning with his sons Richie and Ben, daughter Penny and his wife Jodie Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
REPRO FREE***PRESS RELEASE NO REPRODUCTION FEE*** British & Irish Lions Squad Announcement for 2017 Tour to New Zealand 19/4/2017 Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie
Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 26/11/2016 Ireland vs Australia Ireland's Rory Best celebrates with his family after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
British & Irish Lions Tour To Australia 2013 Visit 10 Downing Street, London, England 16/9/2013 Rory Best and his wife Jodie arriving at 10 Downing Street Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Pic Darren Kidd © PressEye.Com 22/08/07. Ireland International's Simon and Rory Best at their family home in Poyntzpass.
Ulster Rugby 2006 Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Ulster Rugby/John Dickson
RBS Six Nations 4/2/2006 Ireland Rory Best and Simon Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Andrew Paton
Ireland Rugby Team 8/11/2005 Rory Best Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Andrew Paton
Photo Caption Ulster Captain and Irish rugby international Rory Best married his childhood sweetheart, Jodie Bell, on Friday. 230 guests attended the ceremony in St Matthews Parish Church, Richhill before celebrating with family & friends at a venue created specially for the couple by North Down Marquees and celebrity wedding planner Leo Callow at the Palace Demesne Armagh. Photography by Bradley Quinn
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 8th September 2018 - RORY BEST AWARDED FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH AT CEREMONY IN ARMAGH Some of the biggest names from the world of rugby union gathered today at the Archbishopís Palace in Armagh along with friends and family of Dr Rory Best OBE to witness the sportsmanís conferment with the Freedom of the Borough of Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon. The Lord Mayor, Alderman and Councillors awarded the honour to the Ulster, Ireland and Lions rugby star ñ only the second-ever granted - to recognise his huge contribution to both sport and the community in the borough. Rory Best and Lord Mayor, Cllr Julie Flaherty with the scroll at the Palace in Armagh Rory Best and Lord Mayor, Cllr Julie Flaherty with members of Council at the Palace in Armagh Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Pic Darren Kidd © PressEye.Com 22/08/07. Ireland International's Simon and Rory Best at their family home in Poyntzpass.
TOPSHOT - Six nations rugby captains (L-R) Scotland's Greig Laidlaw, Italy's Sergio Parisse, Ireland's Rory Best, Wales' Alun Wyn Jones, England's Owen Farrell and France's Guilhem Guirado pose with the trophy during the 6 Nations Launch event at The Hurlingham Club in west London on January 23, 2019. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS / AFP)ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images
Ulster and Ireland Rugby captain Rory Best OBE was presented with an honorary doctorate at Queen s University Belfast for distinction in sport.
LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Rory Best of Ireland celebrates with The NatWest Six Nations trophy during the NatWest Six Nations match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
NatWest 6 Nations Championship Round 5, Twickenham, London, England 17/3/2018 England vs Ireland Ireland's Rory Best celebrates winning Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Rugby player Rory Best with his OBE medal, which was presented at an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday November 21, 2018. See PA story ROYAL Investiture. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The AIG Rugby Weekend, Solider Field, Chicago, USA 5/11/2016 Ireland vs New Zealand All Blacks Ireland's Rory Best celebrates winning with his children Ben and Penny Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Dan Sheridan
British & Irish Lions Tour to Australia 2013 Visit to 10 Downing Street, London 16/9/2013 British & Irish Lions team visit 10 Downing Street Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Cathal Noonan
Guinness Series, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 26/11/2016 Ireland vs Australia Ireland's Rory Best celebrates with his wife Jodie and children from (L-R) Penny, Ben and Richie Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
Pic Darren Kidd © PressEye.Com 22/08/07. Ireland International's Simon and Rory Best at their family home in Poyntzpass.
Ireland Captain Rory Best with his wife Jodie and children Penny (5), Ben (7) and Richie (2) while leaving the Shelbourne hotel after winning the Six Nations by beating Scotland. Pic:Mark Condren 11.3.2018
2019 Guinness Six Nations Championship Round 4, Aviva Stadium, Dublin 10/3/2019 Ireland vs France Ireland's Rory Best Mandatory Credit �INPHO/Ryan Byrne
Ireland's hooker Rory Best holds aloft the Centenary Quaich trophy after winning the Six Nations international rugby union match between Scotland and Ireland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, Scotland on Febuary 9, 2019. - Ireland won the match 22-13. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

Ulster and Ireland captain Rory Best has confirmed he is to officially retire from professional rugby.

Best is to bow out after spending 14 seasons at the top level, amassing 116 international caps and 219 appearances for Ulster.

The rugby legend, who was awarded an OBE for his services to the sport in 2017, will bow out when his current contract expires after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

As he is currently out with an injury, the announcement means Best has potentially already played his last game for Ulster.

Best said he had "mixed feelings" about the decision and hopes to finish his career on a high.

“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged," he said.

“I am very excited for the end of the season with Ulster Rugby and for the upcoming World Cup with Ireland, both of which I hope to finish with a massive high, playing at the top of my game.

“In my 15 years at this brilliant club, I have been lucky to have met, played alongside, been coached by and supported by many great people, and I would like to thank every individual for the time they have invested in me since 2004.

“I grew up supporting Ulster Rugby, have been fortunate to play and captain Ulster Rugby, and now look forward to supporting Ulster Rugby in the future with my family.”

Ulster Rugby's Operations Director Bryn Cunningham said no player at the club had a more "profound impact" on the sport than Best.

“When Rory enters the room, everyone waits for his words. On the training pitch, he demands high standards at all times," he said.

"During a match, players turn to Rory for leadership and direction. He has been our all-encompassing talismanic figure for more than a decade."

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