Saturday 10 December 2016

'The complete leader' - Paul O'Connell full of praise for Keith Wood as he scoops top award

Published 11/03/2016 | 14:00

Keith Wood was honoured by Haven today
Keith Wood was honoured by Haven today

Paul O'Connell has paid the ultimate compliment to "complete leader" Keith Wood, as the former Ireland and Munster man was honoured for his outstanding contribution to rugby today.

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Haven, the leading Irish charity working on the ground in Haiti, hosted its seventh annual Six Nations Rugby lunch in Dublin's InterContinental Hotel with a host of big names present to see Wood pick up his award.

Among the guests were former players O'Connell and Alan Quinlan as well as Irish Independent columnist George Hook.

During Wood’s illustrious international career, he stood as talisman for club, country and British and Irish Lions. He led the Irish team as captain on 36 occasions and was capped 58 times. 

Wood also holds the world record for the most number of tries scored by a hooker and was also the inaugural winner of the IRB World Player of the Year award in 2001. 

Speaking at the event, Haven Founder and Chairman, Leslie Buckley, said: “It is our privilege to celebrate the fantastic achievements of Keith Wood at the Haven Rugby Lunch today. 

"Keith was not only a truly dynamic, impassioned player, but a born leader of men, and his influence as Captain of the Irish team was immense.  Haven enjoys a very strong connection to rugby in Ireland, and I am delighted to celebrate that connection today, particularly with Haven Ambassadors Paul O’Connell and George Hook joining us.”

Paul O’Connell added: “As both a Haven Ambassador and his former teammate, it is a real honour to be here today to see a genuine rugby hero, Keith Wood, presented with this award. Keith was the complete leader, and his unrelenting passion and perseverance made an incredible difference to the game of rugby in Ireland. He truly deserves this award today.” 

All monies raised during this year’s Rugby Lunch will go towards supporting community development programs on the ground in Haiti.  Haven’s projects and training courses are creating sustainable social enterprise, strengthening skills and education, and empowering families to live free from poverty.  Since its establishment, Haven has:

• Facilitated the training of over 78,000 Haitian people

• Brought over 1,400 volunteers to Haiti to work on its projects

• Built or upgraded homes for over 19,800 people

• Directly employed over 1,200 Haitian people

Speaking on the importance of supporting ongoing work in the country, Mr Buckley added: “I will be calling on the incoming Government and the new Minister for Overseas Aid to commit more funding to Haiti.  International Development is a long term process.  It requires commitment, funding, focus and, most importantly, longevity.”

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