• Home
  • /
  • Rugby
  • /
  • Donncha O'Callaghan's Words Sum Up The Carnage Of The Battle Of Bayonne

Donncha O'Callaghan's Words Sum Up The Carnage Of The Battle Of Bayonne

Donncha O'Callaghan's Words Sum Up The Carnage Of The Battle Of Bayonne
By Colman Stanley Updated
Share this article

To historians, the Battle of Bayonne was an event that took place in on April 14, 1814, when local French forces came up against the combined might of the British, Spanish, and Portuguese.

To supporters of Ireland, it refers to the date of August 16, 2007, when again, the local French forces rallied against foreign invaders; this time in the form of the Irish rugby team.

While there were a few more casualties in 1814, the 21st century battle was, no doubt, every bit as brutal.

There are numerous testimonies of that day from Irish players, of a game that should never have taken place - it was only weeks away from the World Cup, and it was inevitable that the local Bayonne team would be out for blood, with Ireland and France in the same group.

One of the starting second-rows that day, Donncha O'Callaghan, described in his book, 'Joking Apart', the absolute cynical filthiness of the Bayonne side, from the first whistle to the last.

That was the filthiest match I ever played in. At the first line out one of their guys grabbed my balls; later on, one of them head-butted me while I was lying on the ground.

The Most Brutal World Cup Warm-Up Game Imaginable




16 August 2007; Marcus Horan, Ireland, in action against Cedine Bergez, left, and Aretl Igiuniz, Bayonne. Rugby World Cup Warm Up Game, Bayonne v Ireland, Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne, France. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

READ HERE: Ferris Explains Why Ireland Should Take An Extra Back Row To World Cup

Another testimony that gives a sense of the game's atmosphere, came from Neil Best, whose cult status within Irish rugby is due to his incredibly tough and abrasive nature on the field.

Such was the hardness of the man that a propensity for being carded was inevitable, and Best took special care not to let himself get out of hand in Bayonne, and risk his World Cup involvement.


However, such a was the nature of the game that he was unable to prevent himself getting sent to the bin. In the context of the game he did very little, and there is even a part of him that regrets not throwing the shackles off.

"The other part of me has a slightly different take on things. I was quite measured in what I gave back during that game -and given the consequences for me of what I did do -a little bit of me wonders whether my true regret is not giving back a whole lot more."

SEE ALSO: A Look Back At One Of The Most Infamous Days In Ireland's World Cup History

Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com