World Rugby and the All Blacks led tributes Sunday to Kieran Read who announced his retirement from rugby after a semi-final defeat in Japan’s Top League.
The third most-capped player in New Zealand rugby history confirmed before leading Toyota Verblitz against the Panasonic Wild Knights on Saturday that he would finish playing at the end of the Japanese season.
That came at the final whistle of the match as Verblitz lost 48-21, unable to extend Read’s storied career to next weekend’s final.
“I’m looking forward to returning to New Zealand and spending time with my family,” Read posted on social media.
Thank you, Reado. We wish you all the best in your retirement from professional rugby. pic.twitter.com/zOCybXOr5G
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) May 15, 2021
The towering No 8 made 127 Test appearances for New Zealand, 52 of them as captain after taking over the armband from Richie McCaw in 2016.
He was part of two Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks sides and was voted World Rugby’s player of the year in 2013.
At club level, he won four Super Rugby titles with the Canterbury Crusaders.
World Rugby posted on social media a list of Read’s incredible honours as a player with the simple sign-off: “What a career,” and a clapping emoji.
“Thank you, Reado. We wish you all the best in your retirement from professional rugby,” said New Zealand Rugby on their official Twitter feed.
“One of the greats. Enjoy retirement,” added NZR alongside a black heart emoji.
Read made his All Blacks debut in 2008 and formed, with McCaw and Jerome Kaino, the formidable back row that was a fundamental part of the World Cup-winning sides in 2011 and 2015.
What a career ???? pic.twitter.com/MjcMMFFICS
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) May 15, 2021
“Congrats on an incredible career, Kieran,” tweeted the Rugby World Cup with a video of Read leading the haka at his final Rugby World Cup game, the 2019 third-fourth playoff against Wales in Japan.
“All the best in retirement mate” posted arch-rivals Australia on their official Wallabies social media pages.
Read was co-captain this season at Toyota Verblitz, where his former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is director of rugby.