Irish models and rugby players: 10 of the most memorable couples
Like attracts like and when rugby went professional in 1995, its players upgraded their lives not only on the pitch but off of it, too.
By the time the Noughties rolled in, Irish rugby players had taken their place among the country’s socialites and their dating of models began.
Brian O’Driscoll opened the floodgates when he was pictured with Glenda Gilson in 2001. The pair led the way and the rugby-model social phenomenon took hold.
1). Glenda Gilson and Brian O’Driscoll
Glenda and Brian dated for four years from 2001 to 2005. Their relationship provided social diarists with inches upon inches of column space. The pair parted ways eventually and are now both happily married elsewhere.
2). Holly Carpenter and Cian Healy
Holly and Cian are no longer a match but this pairing was less about social standing and more about standing together. The couple met at a protest in Clontarf in 2012. Like BOD and Glenda, they too have gone their separate ways and called it a day in 2014.
3). Rob Kearney and Jess Redden
Rob and Jess are the latest rugby star and model coupling. Jess (22) was recently signed to the Andrea Roche modeling agency but working as a pharmacist is her real “dream.” The pair were dating for a year before their relationship became public.
4). Jamie Heaslip and Sheena O’Buachalla
Jamie and Sheena have always kept their relationship on the low-down, even after their recent engagement. “She loves rugby but has never got caught up in that scene,” Heaslip said of O’Buachalla’s social profile. Sheena was a model with First Options and worked for Spin FM. The Trinity graduate currently works as the marketing manager for Leinster Rugby.
5). Aoife Cogan and Gordon D’Arcy
Aoife and Gordon met on a photoshoot. D’arcy asked her out but Aoife was dating someone at the time. Upon learning of the split a few months later, the retired rugby centre asked again. They married in 2012 and had a baby girl, Soleil, together last May.
6). Tommy Bowe and Lucy Whitehouse
Tommy and Lucy have been a little private about their relationship compared to other rugby-model pairings. The former Miss Wales, who has since swapped catwalks to nurse on hospital wards, met Bowe in 2009. They shared their engagement news on social media with a photo of the ring included. They married in Wales last summer. Bowe described it as a "brilliant" day but said the ring takes a bit of getting used to with his time on the pitch and in the gym.
7). Karena Graham and retired Leinster player Gary Brown
Karena and Gary had a four-year relationship which ended in 2014. At the time of the break-up she said she intended to stay single for a time. She’s now dating sports management boss Damien O’Donohue.
8). Nadia Forde and Luke Fitzgerald
Nadia and Luke are another model-rugby pair. Like Cogan and D’Arcy, they met at a photocall in 2011 and moved in together in 2012. The couple are no longer a match, with Nadia now dating Welsh rugby player Dominic Day. Nadia previously said: “Jobs have nothing to do with it.”
9). Hazel O’Sullivan and Fergus McFadden
Hazel and Fergus dated between 2012 and 2013 with Hazel admitting that she moved to London after splitting with the Leinster player. She is currently in a long-term relationship with Spurs footballer Andros Townsend.
10). Hayley Ryan and Dave Kearney
Hayley and Dave dated on and off for two years before finally calling it quits in 2014. They even had a long-distance relationship when Hayley moved to New York for an internship. She is currently single.