Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian International and Beardo Adam Kleeberger Retires from Rugby

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Canadian International and Beardo Adam Kleeberger Retires from Rugby

Article excerpt

Canadian rugby veteran Kleeberger retires

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TORONTO - With Canada trailing host New Zealand 65-15 in the 73rd minute at the 2011 World Cup, 262-pound All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock headed towards the Canadian goalline with a teammate to his right if needed.

There was just one Canadian defender in front of him -- Adam Kleeberger.

The 216-pound Canadian flanker flew at the big man in what turned out to be a violent head-on-head collision that left both face down unconscious on the pitch. They finally got up but had to leave the game, with an unsteady Kleeberger helped to the Canadian locker-room in Wellington.

It was the kind of commitment Canada regularly got from Kleeberger, who has announced his retirement from elite rugby. He won 38 caps for Canada, starting all but five of those matches.

While Kleeberger has come back from a variety of serious injuries, he says his body would not let him perform at the level he wanted.

"Obviously quite a difficult decision, a hard decision to make," he said in an interview Friday. "But looking at the way it unfolded, I think it's the right one for me at the time. I don't have any regrets about the decision I've made and the experiences I have through rugby up to this point"

The 31-year-old from White Rock, B.C., played in two Rugby World Cups for Canada and won notoriety as of Canada's "beardos" at the 2011 tournament.

Kleeberger and fellow forwards Hubert Buydens and Jebb Sinclair went into the tournament with mountain men beards, drawing attention from around the globe.

While Kleeberger could grow a beard, he had to make do with a body that broke down during a hard-nosed career.

He had two shoulder reconstructions and suffered ongoing back pain from disc and nerve issues. And those injuries robbed him of the chance to show all his skills in club stints in both England and New Zealand.

Kleeberger captained the B.C. Bears to third place in the recent Canadian Rugby Championships. His last game was July 1, a 31-30 win over the Atlantic Rock.

He believes he could have made the team for this fall's World Cup.

"But if I was going to be on the team, I wanted to be a contributing member rather than just a passenger. And although there were some lingering things with my body, it was just more an overall feeling I need to be performing at the best of my ability to be happy attending this next World Cup. …

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