Wednesday 28 September 2016

From the archives – When Paul O’Connell took a not-so-subtle dig at Prince William

Published 09/02/2016 | 17:56

Tributes and stories about Paul O’Connell are in plentiful supply on the day the rugby legend announced his retirement, but tale from John Hayes’ autobiography will take some beating.

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‘The Bull’ soldiered alongside the Limerick lock during a golden period in Munster rugby, the pair winning two Heineken Cups as well as Triple Crowns and a Grand Slam with Ireland in 2009.

Two of the most popular characters in Irish rugby, the 105-cap international prop released his autobiography in 2012, ‘The Bull – My Story’, with many colourful and insightful tales of his days in both amateur and professional rugby.

One of the most light-hearted stories in a book littered with humorous anecdotes was the time the prop forward recalled Prince William’s visit to the 2005 Lions camp.

Hayes and O’Connell were sitting in the changing room when the Prince William, a keen rugby enthusiast, met all the members of the squad.  

“At one stage of the tour Prince William turned up to meet him [head coach Clive Woodward] at training one day,” he wrote.

20 May 2005; Paul O'Connell and John Hayes during a British and Irish Lions training session. University of Glamorgan playing fields, Treforest, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit; Tim Parfitt / SPORTSFILE
20 May 2005; Paul O'Connell and John Hayes during a British and Irish Lions training session. University of Glamorgan playing fields, Treforest, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit; Tim Parfitt / SPORTSFILE

“William is a big rugby fan and he came into our dressing room after one of the games and went round shaking our hands. I was sitting next to O'Connell. William told him he'd heard of Munster rugby and the legendary Thomond Park.

“So Paulie said to him he should come over for a game some time. William said he'd love to but it wouldn't be easy; a visit like that to Ireland would take a bit or organising.

“And quick as a flash O'Connell fires back, 'Some of your ancestors hadn't much problem coming over to Ireland.'

“He kind of half said it under his breath so I wasn't sure if Prince William had heard it or not.

“But I had and I nearly fell off my seat laughing.”

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