Saturday 25 March 2017

What BOD did next...

Rugby legend Brian O'Driscoll has a surprising addition to his CV

Family man: Brian O'Driscoll with his daughter Sadie at his last Six Nations match in the Aviva last year
Family man: Brian O'Driscoll with his daughter Sadie at his last Six Nations match in the Aviva last year
Brian and Amy
Amy Huberman
John Meagher

John Meagher

It is not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about the post-rugby career of one of our greatest sportsmen, but Brian O'Driscoll can add 'choreographer' to an already bulging CV.

It emerged this week that he had worked on the set of a forthcoming Irish film, Handsome Devil, to lend his expertise to the scenes in which the characters, from leafy south Dublin, play rugby. The most capped player ever - until the honour was snatched by New Zealand's Richie McCaw last Saturday - was there to ensure that the play carried a ring of authenticity.

The film's director, John Butler, is well known to O'Driscoll, not least because wife Amy Huberman played the part of the bride in Butler's well-received comedy feature, The Stag, in 2013, so one imagines there wasn't a huge amount of arm-twisting to be done.

Since hanging up his boots in June 2014, O'Driscoll has embraced retirement as well as any top-level sports star might reasonably expect too. He has ensured that there's plenty of time for young children Sadie and Billy amid the various demands as a TV rugby pundit, fledgling broadcaster, after-dinner speaker and app entrepreneur.

Profits issued for O'Driscoll's ODM & Promotions Ltd last month showed his final year as a professional was an especially lucrative one, jumping by €102,006 to €3.628m. The accounts show that he was busy off the field making new investments. The value of his holdings went from €1.6m to €2.1m while the firm's cash pile was reduced from €1.37m to €942,777.

Although he can no longer count on the hefty salary from the IRFU, he has been able to benefit from the Government's scheme for retired sports stars, allowing them to claim back 40pc tax on their gross earnings from sports activity over a 10-year period.

Unlike some of his peers, O'Driscoll has largely avoided property for investment purposes. His greatest entrepreneurial passion is the Ultimate Rugby smartphone rugby app, which offers real-time news, fixtures and results from around the world. And although the app has been well received - it has a creditable 4.3 rating out of five in the Google Play store - it posted accumulated losses of €460,000 earlier this year.

Despite this, tech entrepreneur Ray Nolan - who, like O'Driscoll, owns 45pc of the company - is bullish about its future and has predicted a "healthy" 2015 when the app is in profit.

At present, most of his earnings are thought to come from his role as analyst with the deep-pocketed BT Sport, who recently outbid Sky for Champions League football coverage and he is among the most in-demand corporate speakers in Ireland today.

O'Driscoll, under his father Frank's direction, established his company at just 22 and from early on recognised the marketing potential of his brand. And still the sponsorships keep coming in: despite retiring from the game, he remains a brand ambassador for both Lexus and HSBC bank, and is a patron of the ISPCC and the Temple Street Found­ation.

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