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Paul O'Connell's Book Reveals He Wanted To 'Knock Out' Alastair Campbell On The '05 Lions

Paul O'Connell's Book Reveals He Wanted To 'Knock Out' Alastair Campbell On The '05 Lions
Conor O'Leary
By Conor O'Leary
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The Lions tour of 2005 was one of the worst ever. The 3-0 whitewash from New Zealand was the tip of the iceberg. The best team in the world had embarrassed the Irish and British Lions, and had called the future of the tradition into question.

From the reaction to Brian O'Driscoll's injury, to the segregation of the Lions players, to the failed spin-doctor Alastair Campbell - it was a complete and utter disaster, and it's no surprise that Clive Woodward hasn't had a job in rugby coaching since.

Campbell's involvement in the tour for media relations reasons didn't go down too well with the players either, as Paul O'Connell's autobiography revealed. The book, titled "The Battle" will be released on Thursday, but the Sunday Times have six different extracts from the book in today's paper. They include O'Connell's 24 hour drinking session after losing to Wales in the 2011 World Cup, what he was thinking lying on the pitch after his career-ending injury, and an insight into his first meeting with Joe Schmidt. Pick up a Sunday Times to read them, they are worth it.

paul o'connell alastair campbell

One extract deals with Alastair Campbell, and how O'Connell wanted to "knock him out". The reason comes from a team-talk Campbell had with the team after the first test. New Zealand had delivered one of the best performances ever seen, and to rally the troops Clive Woodward brought Campbell into speak to the players.


According to O'Connell, he started off by admitting he didn't know much about rugby - but he knew how they were feeling. That Campbell knew what it was like to be going into war, and compared the Lions tour to political crises in Northern Ireland or Kosovo.

And then he said what infuriated O'Connell so much (via Sunday Times):

He didn’t have the sense that we were fighting back.

To Paul O'Connell, that's fighting words. That's poking the bear. It insulted him. How could anyone question how much the Limerick man wanted to win for the Lions?

On the training pitch the following morning, I was still thinking about Alastair’s few words and getting more and more p***** off. I decided what I was going to do when the session was over: find Alastair and knock him out.

There wouldn’t be any need for questions or explanations. Everyone would know what it was for.

Fortunately for Alastair Campbell, like he always does, O'Connell emptied himself in that training session - and his anger towards Campbell dissipated.

[Sunday Times]

See Also: Paul O'Connell's Little Known Retort To Prince William One Of His Finest Moments

Photo Credit Sportsfile

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