Video – Paul O’Connell’s tale of smoking, sore gums and break up

O'Connell had a Lions tour to forget in 2005

O’Connell had a Lions tour to forget in 2005

Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell has spoken of highly eventful 2005 Lions tour, that saw him break up with his girlfriend Emily while also being left with damaged gums for the rest of his life as he tried to cover up his smoking habit.

O’Connell was appearing on BBC radio as he ran through a tale of woe that coincided with a 3-0 loss to a rampant New Zealand side, with the after effect from his lonely existence in the team hotel still affecting him to this day.

“If I was ever out on the town when I was young, all my friends smoked and I used to have a smoke,” said O’Connell.

“I looked absolutely ridiculous with a cigarette in my hands, but on that tour we were rooming on our own and I had a balcony looking out over the harbor.

“I used to have the odd cigarette and I was worried the when I went downstairs that I might smell of cigarettes so I started brushing my teeth. If I could get anything out of the tour I might have white teeth by the end of it, but I brushed by gums away a little too much.

“Then when I went home, whenever I ate ice cream, my gums were in agony. I went to the dentist and he told me I was stuck with crappy gums now for the rest of my life. That’s the legacy of 2005!”

He also revealed the talk of how he broke up with his wife to be Emily in what he described as a “disastrous” tour:

'I smoked throughout 2005 Lions tour…and split up with my girlfriend'.@paul_oconnell on an eventful 6 weeks in New Zealand.

— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) October 12, 2016

O’Connell also gave his views on who should captain the Lions tour next year, when they will again tour New Zealand.

Paul O'Connell has his say on who should captain the 2017 @lionsofficial side.

— BBC 5 live Sport (@5liveSport) October 12, 2016

Leinster see off lacklustre Munster

Isa Nacewa crosses for his first try of the game

Isa Nacewa crosses for his first try of the game

Easier than it looked for Leinster who should have scored more tries than they did, allowing an often limp Munster side to stay competitive until the end.

Both sides were chasing a bonus point in the final five minutes; arguably, neither deserved it but the brace of tries from Isa Nacewa in either half, added to by Jamison Gibson-Park late in the piece, reflected blue dominion.

Based on the quality of this evidence, both teams must improve to threaten the last eight in Europe; Munster will also sweat on a shoulder problem for Keith Earls.

Munster dominated early possession but kicked it away twice and from Leinster’s first visit to the opponents’ 22, they got a fifth minute lead through the boot of Jonathan Sexton.

Sexton made no mistake and five minutes later he doubled Leinster’s advantage although it could have been much more for the dominant home side as Nacewa missed a glorious chance to score.

Munster did impose some pressure around the 25th minute mark when they kicked to the corner for two successive lineout drives.

Despite the referee being in the completely wrong position to view the score, O’Mahony’s touchdown was confirmed by the TMO and, incredibly, Tyler Bleyendaal’s conversion gave his side the lead, 7-6, in the 27th minute.

Leinster should have responded a try almost immediately; Sexton’s grubber landed on a plate for Garry Ringrose but the midfield tyro, under little pressure and with the ball bouncing perfectly into his midriff, failed miserably in his attempt to land the five-pointer.

It was the nearest one gets to an open goal in rugby as 40,527 Aviva spectators gasped in dis-belief.

Leinster remained camped in this Havelock Square corner for the next ten minutes and they nearly did get the score their pressure seemed to deserve but the referee blocked Luke McGrath’s attempt to carry on the blindside of a scrum despite having a two-on-one outside him.

Astonishingly, Munster allowed their opponents to replicate the exact same move just seconds later; this time the referee couldn’t help the appallingly lax Reds’ defence and Nacewa was not to be denied.

Sexton missed the 35th minute conversion but the 11-7 scoreline now more accurately reflected the disparity between the sides as the half-time break loomed.

If they had taken all their chances, Leinster would have been out of sight.

Munster began the second-half as they began the first; attacking with the ball but without conviction or penetration.

They were held up short as they punched bigger and wider holes but Leinster’s blue wall held out, James Cronin penalised for a double movement as he flailed at the try-line from close range.

Leinster created little until Munster over-threw a lineout in 55th minute on their own 22; the home side pounced and, after initially being repelled, Rob Kearney flung a pass – well forward but missed by the officials – from right to left for Nacewa to claim his second try of the match.

Sexton’s conversion made it 18-7 with the hour mark approaching and, as Keith Earls departed clutching his shoulder, Munster looked like a beaten docket.

Sexton spurned a shot at goal on the hour as Leinster sensed a third try. They struggled to get it but the fact they didn’t need it spoke volumes about Munster’s own struggles.

A comedy of errors in the 68th minute allowed Leinster to score it. Ronan O’Mahony fumbled Robbie Henshaw’s grubber; Henshaw missed the touchdown, Bleyendaal failed to gather.

As all around him flailed, Jamison Gibson-Park mopped up the mess; Nacewa added extras for 25-7. Munster’s new signing Jaco Taute scored a consolation with six minutes left as his side belatedly found the exposed defence out wide.


Connacht emerge victorious in thriller against Ulster

They were slow getting going but there was nothing sluggish about Connacht tonight as they celebrated their second win over Ulster in 21 attempts, and picked up a bonus point to boot in a 30-25 victory.

The Sportsground rocked like it hasn't in months ahead of the visit of Toulouse next weekend as the Guinness Pro12 champions showed that last season wasn't a flash in the pan after all.

Their breakdown work was excellent, their accuracy with ball in hand on a dry night far superior to anything seen in September and, when Ulster asked questions by wiping out a 14 point half-time lead in five minutes, they showed real character to dig in.

For Les Kiss, the unbeaten start to the season has ended and the risk of leaving Ruan Pienaar back in Belfast back-fired. They will need far more in Bordeaux next Sunday.

What may please Pat Lam most is the integration of those who weren't in Murrayfield last May, in particular Cian Kelleher who capped a brilliant performance with two tries.

Connacht started with real intent, meeting Ulster ball-carriers on the gainline and driving them backwards with force.

It reaped reward within three minutes as Dave Heffernan made a brilliant break in midfield and, with Ulster on the back-foot, Caolin Blade made more yards with a sniping run. Eoin McKeon and Andrew Browne took it on close, before Jack Carty slipped past Roger Wilson to score.

Ulster came straight back up and earned a penalty for Paddy Jackson to get them off the mark.

The game then followed a pattern of each team attacking to no avail, but it was the home side who struck for an impressive double-whammy before the half-hour mark to leave their visitors stunned.

After struggling for form in the early weeks of the season, this was a reprise of everything that made the champions so irresistible last year as they attacked with directness and width.

Kelleher finished a fine try after a brilliant Bundee Aki carry put the Ulster defence on the back foot and Tiernan O’Halloran floated the skip pass wide for the former Leinster winger to step inside Tommy Bowe and score.

Carty struck the post with the conversion, but got an almost instant chance to atone as Bowe failed to gather the restart and Aki popped the bouncing ball to Kelleher.

The 22-year-old raced into space, drew Jared Payne and found James Connolly who was caught but quickly recycled the ball. With Ulster scrambling, Aki floated the ball wide to O’Halloran who took contact rather than finding John Muldoon on his shoulder. That might have been that, but again the Connacht forwards secured quick ball and Blade spotted Connolly coming like a train. Even a strong hit from Rodney Ah You wasn't going to stop him from 5m.

Carty converted, but the pendulum swung Ulster’s direction as they set up camp in the Connacht ’22 where Payne turned down a penalty and went to touch. Three lineout mauls and four penalties later, Conor Carey was headed for the sin-bin and the visitors made their numbers count as Paul Marshall found Craig Gilroy wide left and he scored.

Jackson failed to deliver from the conversion and Carty extended his side’s lead at the other end after Iain Henderson went held on under his own posts.

That meant the hosts deservedly went in 22-8 in front, but within five minutes of the restart the league leaders were level.

A high tackle from Browne allowed Jackson kick to the corner where Ulster's superior maul powered over for Rory Best to touch down.

This time Jackson made no mistake with the conversion as he reduced the gap to seven and they were level within five minutes of the restart as Tommy Bowe raced into space from a clean lineout and sent Payne over.

Jackson again made no mistake to wipe out the half-time deficit.

Just as a high tackle had invited Ulster's comeback, a similar infringement by Clive Ross led to Kelleher's second, and Connacht's fourth, try as Craig Ronaldson who worked the overlap for the winger to cross.

The bonus point was secure, but with Carty missing the conversion the result was still in doubt.

The out-half did extend the lead to eight with a simple penalty but Jackson cancelled that out with a similar effort from right in front to set up a grandstand finish.

Both sides continued to attack, but Connacht blinked first as Ultan Dillane strayed offside. Rather than close the gap to two points by kicking the penalty, Ulster went to the line.

Connacht dealt with the maul and then repelled the carries before Brett Herron blocked Craig Ronaldson as he tried to get to Jackson and Connacht relieved the pressure.

Ross Kane needlessly picked up a yellow card for a shoulder charge as the game slipped away from the Ulstermen.

CONNACHT – T O'Halloran; N Adeolokun, B Aki (S Ili 64-68), C Ronaldson, C Kelleher; J Carty (S O'Leary 72), C Blade; F Bealham (R Loughney 61), D Heffernan (S Delahunt 73), C Carey (JP Cooney 61); U Dillane, A Browne (L Stevenson 68); E McKeon (J Connolly 9) (JP Cooney 40-43), J Heenan, J Muldoon.

ULSTER – J Payne (capt); T Bowe, L Ludik (B Herron 64), D Cave (R Lyttle h-t), C Gilroy; P Jackson, P Marshall; C Black (A Warwick 55), R Best (R Herring 62), R Ah You (R Kane 57); R Diack, P Browne (K Treadwell 63); I Henderson, C Ross (R Ah You 78), R Wilson (S Reidy 55).

Ref – G Conway (IRFU)


Ireland in the mix to host 2023 rugby World Cup

Could rugby's greatest tournament come to Ireland?

Could rugby’s greatest tournament come to Ireland?

The race to host the 2023 World Cup will be contested by Ireland, France and South Africa.

World Rugby have confirmed that all three nations have demonstrated their ability to meet key criteria such as finance and venues in their applications to stage the tournament.

Italy had also begun the bidding process only to pull out last week when it emerged they would not be given government support.

"We are delighted by the strong level of serious interest from unions and governments, which is clearly reflected in three strong and impressive applications," World Rugby chairman Bill Beaumont said.

"I would like to congratulate the unions for successfully progressing to candidate status and we welcome further dialogue with all parties as momentum builds towards the selection for the host."

The third and final phase of the host selection process begins on November 1 with the winner to be chosen a year later.

Video: American heckler takes up European team challenge and wins in style

The plucky American fan celebrates his putt with Henrik Stenson

The plucky American fan celebrates his putt with Henrik Stenson

Justin Rose was unbeaten in the last Ryder Cup at Gleneagles, but the Olympic champion has already tasted defeat at Hazeltine – to an American spectator.

After Andy Sullivan and Rory McIlroy had failed to make a putt on the eighth green during Thursday's practice round, David Johnson from North Dakota shouted that he could make it from around 12 feet.

Rose and Henrik Stenson, the other two European players in the group, decided to call the man's bluff and brought him out of the crowd, with Rose even betting him 100 US dollars that he would miss.

However, after Rose placed the 100 dollar bill on the green, Johnson promptly holed the putt to spark wild celebrations and earn himself high-fives and hugs from the European quartet.

Stenson said: "We played a match against Andy and Rory and they had a putt and Andy didn't make it, and they tried again to get the right line.

"Someone in the crowd yelled I could have made that, so we let him have a go. All credit to him. Rosie put 100 dollars down and the guy drilled it in the centre.

"He would have been chipping if it didn't go in, but all credit to him for making it."

Rose added: "I thought it (the money) might make it a bit more real for him, but clearly not. The boys were cupping out, missing it low and this guy just got the ball out and ripped it into the middle. Fair play to him and he celebrated in style.

"It's fun. We are doing what we should be doing out here, having fun. We are preparing, we are focusing, but you have to enjoy it."

« Older Entries Recent Entries »