Rugby

Paul O'Connell's Words On What It Means To Play For Ireland Belong On A Statue

Paul O'Connell's Words On What It Means To Play For Ireland Belong On A Statue

We've looked at it before but with the sad news emerging today that Paul O'Connell has been forced to announce his retirement from rugby, we thought it only right to bring this to the fore once more.

Before the dawn of the millennium, Irish rugby was in rag order and there seemed to be precious little buzz around the sport.

In the noughties, Ireland underwent a mysterious transformation from being a team who lost 80% of their matches to a team who won 70% of their matches and the sport's popularity went sky high.

Plenty of great players helped drive this change.

But arguably the three players most associated with this transformation in the public mind were Brian O'Driscoll, Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell. They were big players and big personalities. And O'Connell, a product of the AIL whose earliest rugby memories revolve, not around Munster, but around the early 90s heyday of that once beloved competition, was the most charismatic of them all.

Now they're all gone and Ireland face into a future shorn of the last of these big personalities. But the inspiration should still linger.

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In Tom English's fantastic book 'No Borders: Playing Rugby For Ireland' (you should buy it, it is packed with tremendous stories), Paul O'Connell spoke about what it means to play for Ireland.

His words should be placed on a plaque on the Lansdowne Road dressing room wall.

You do your best in the jersey and you pass it on to the next guy. Woody, the Claw and Gaillimh; ROG, Brian and Hayes. We all have our time and then our time is up and everyone gets a little bit sad because it's over, but we're the lucky ones to have had that time in the first place. Rugby has changed so much over the years, but some things haven't changed and never will. The pride in the jersey will always, always be the same.

And now, it's over to his successors.

Read more: 13 Opposition Quotes Which Prove The Greatness Of Paul O'Connell

Conor Neville
Article written by
Perennial finalist in stand-up comedy competitions and former Contract Lawyer/ Coal Salesman with Corless, Corless and Sweeney

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