Rugby

Watch: Stephen Ferris Describes How A Petrifying Paul O'Connell Ended A Tunnel Brawl Vs France

Watch: Stephen Ferris Describes How A Petrifying Paul O'Connell Ended A Tunnel Brawl Vs France

The year was 2009, and Stephen Ferris was eye-gouged not once but twice during Ulster's Heineken Cup victory over Stade Francais.

Julien Dupuy was adjudged to have "made contact" with Ferris' eye and received a short suspension, but Stade's Davide Attoub was banned for a year for what was perceived a far more serious attempt to damage Ferris' eye.

Ferris detailed the incident in his 2015 autobiography, Man and Ball, and has since revealed that tensions continued to linger between he and a number of French players - most notably Stade Francais duo Dimitri Szarzewski and Pascal Papé - whom Ferris encountered in the Six Nations which followed.

Intriguingly, it was only after Ireland's 2011 World Cup warm-up versus France when tensions reached boiling point, and Szarzewski accosted the Ulsterman in the tunnel.

Speaking at the RBS Six Nations Trophy Tour at an event hosted by Kearys Motors in Cork Con, Ferris described to Balls in some detail as to how the events unfolded, and how they were swiftly brought to an end by a marauding Paul O'Connell.

The French are very easily wound up. After that match (the warm-up vs France) - I think I was coming back, actually, from a knee injury, and I'd played 30 or 40 minutes in that game. And...Dimitri Szarzewski, is it? The French hooker who was part of that Stade Francais team, he scrummed down with Davide Atoub who was the guy who eye-gouged me.

And, yeah, the guy made a mistake. If he had have picked up the phone and given me a ring and said, 'Listen, really sorry, red mist came over me' - or whatever, I'd have said, 'No problem'. But for some reason he wouldn't own up to it, and it just kept bubbling away.

And of course Dimitri Szarzewski had his back, and there was bit of pushing and shoving when we got into the tunnel. I tried to shake his hand and he called me an f-ing something. And I pushed him into the wall. And he came after me.

Luckily, 'Psycho' O'Connell was behind me; six-foot-seven, the best shape of his life, and he just went: "Don't you fucking dare!" Or something along those lines. And I just walked away all smug.

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Manic aggression indeed.

Mind you, all is not forgiven as far as Ferris is concerned. He concluded his tale with the following warning to Stade and France great Szarzewski:

If I seen him walking down the street I'd love to go over and hit him a slap, that's for sure.

The streets of Paris will make for interesting viewing when Ireland return to the Stade de France next year.

You can watch Gavan Casey's full 6 Nations discussion with Stephen Ferris, Alan Quinlan and Luke Fitzgerald on the Kearys Motors Facebook page.

SEE ALSO: 'Zebo's A Better Player': Luke Fitzgerald Gives Bluntly Honest Take On Schmidt's Fullback Choice

 

Gavan Casey
Article written by
Former handwriting champion. Was violently bitten by a pelican at Fota Wildlife Park in 2001.

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