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Premiership Rugby

Ibanez retires from international rugby

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

"On the plane on the way back from Australia I told [manager] Jo Maso and [coach] Bernard Laporte of my decision not to continue with the French team," Ibanez told Britain's PA.

"I'm missing my family and I want to know them again."

The 30-year-old Ibanez made his Test debut against Wales in 1996 – winning a total of 72 caps for Les Bleus, and captaining them on 27 occasions. He led France to back-to-back Grand Slams in 1997 and 1998, before his side hit a huge losing streak, earning the Wooden Spoon in the 1999 Five Nations.

The team, however, hit back later in '99, shocking New Zealand in the RWC semi-finals, with Ibanez skippering the side in the Final against the Wallabies, who won the World Cup with a 35-12 Final victory at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The former Castres man found himself in the Test wilderness after the '99 RWC, when current coach Laporte took over from Jean-Claude Skrela, Laporte preferring the likes of Marc Dal Maso and Fabrice Landreau in the No.2 jumper.

Despite that setback, Ibanez forced his way back into the French starting line-up in 2001, wearing the No.2 jersey during France's 2002 Grand Slam triumph, and also at the recent World Cup in Australia, where France got knocked out by eventual winners, England.

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