Wednesday 13 December 2017

Michael Flatley: 'The French tomorrow... we'll give them the beating they deserve'

Rugby legend Keith Wood honoured in Six Nations home tradition

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Former Lions and Ireland hooker Keith Wood was the guest of honour at the traditional Ireland Funds lunch always held on the eve of the first home match of the Six Nations tournament.

Dancer Michael Flatley, an avid rugby fan, attended the lunch and was visibly excited about the game.

"The French tomorrow... we'll give them the beating they deserve," Flatley told

For rugby legend Wood, rugby proved only a side dish as he spoke passionately about community and philantrophy, earning him a resounding round of applause.

Over 400 guests from the worlds of sport, business and celebrities were amongst those who attended the event at the Shelbourne hotel in Dublin.

Amongst those present were the US ambassador Kevin O’Malley, the British ambassador Dominick Chilcott and dancer Michael Flatley.

Former rugby internationals Hugo O’Neill and Trevor Ringland as well as Brendan Mullins and Philip Matthews were also there.

Other guests were broadcasters Sean O’Rourke and Claire Byrne, businessman Peter Sutherland and athlete Mark Pollock.

Keith Wood told how he had first come into contact with the Ireland Funds 20 years ago as a young player and was inspired by their charitable work.

“Lunches like these actually translate into something meaningful and good for communities and for causes around the country and you don’t even realise it at the time,” he said.

Now retired from sport and living with his wife, Nicola and their three young sons in Killaloe, Co Clare, he revealed that out of the town’s population of 5,000, some 3,500 people are currently involved in the community centre he helped build there.

Nicola Wood told the Irish Independent that her husband has never been busier and recently organised a European Sports Tourism Summit.

“He’s really enjoying the business side of things since he retired,” she said.

Meanwhile Wood - who has been a popular pundit for BBC over the years, has also been lined up as a pundit for TV3’s coverage of the Rugby World Cup, in a major coup.

Niall Cogley, TV3’s Director of Broadcasting said they were delighted to secure Keith who is “such a fantastic character in Irish rugby, adding that he was also an extremely experienced and popular pundit.

And he revealed that former Ireland international Hugo MacNeill will be joining Wood on the panel. TV3 hope to secure a record audience of around one million for their World Cup coverage, Mr Cogley said.

He added that they were very close to announcing their entire panel line-up, which is set to happen next week.

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