Tuesday 25 October 2016

Irish rugby legend's honesty shines through autobiography

Jane O'Faherty

Published 11/11/2015 | 02:30

Tony Ward with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at his book launch in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin
Tony Ward with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at his book launch in the Merrion Hotel, Dublin
RTE broadcaster Kate Egan and property expert Paul McNeive at the event. Photos: Justin Farrelly

Irish sporting icon Tony Ward says he hopes his latest book will reflect the "honesty" he brought to his rugby career.

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The legendary former fly-half was speaking at the launch of 'Twelve Feet Tall', which was also attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, champion athlete Eamonn Coghlan and rugby pundit Brent Pope.

The autobiography charts Mr Ward's rise from an under-8 player togging out on the Rathmines Road right through to his stints with Ireland, Munster and the Lions.

"I was difficult to play with and difficult to play against, but one thing I don't think I could be accused of was not wearing my heart on my sleeve," he said.

"I think the book is a reflection of that honesty," he added.

Throughout his career, Mr Ward notched up 19 caps for Ireland and was the first recipient of the European Rugby Player of the Year Award in 1979.

He is also behind two drop goals that ensured Munster's victory against the All-Blacks in 1978.

A versatile sportsman, Ward graced the football pitch, playing for Shamrock Rovers and Limerick United.

Mr Ward said his struggles with prostate cancer had influenced his decision to write his memoir.

"Having been through the past few years, which have been particularly trying, I thought it was an appropriate time to assess in a more substantive way what has gone before," he said.

Also speaking at the launch, Enda Kenny praised Mr Ward and said he "was nothing if not a man of courage."

"It's fine to play the game and go off the pitch and have all the craic, but when it happens that mortality beckons, that is when courage is called into being," he said.

Mr Kenny added that Mr Ward's account of his health difficulties would "give inspiration to so many other people" in the same way his exploits on the rugby pitch did.

Irish Independent

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