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Off The Cuff - Paul Wallace: 'I Remember Brian Rigney Saved My Life'

Off The Cuff - Paul Wallace: 'I Remember Brian Rigney Saved My Life'
By Conor Neville Updated

Paul, welcome to Off The Cuff    Nice to be here. How are you

(This is the obligitoray introduction to any interview and actually didn't take place due to an awkward handshake etc, it is a formality that we would hope to adopt for future editions)

You played in the first ever European Cup match for Leinster in Milan back in 1995. What do you remember about that day? Not a lot, there was no video cameras there so there was a lot of punches going around. I do remember having my life saved by our second row Brian Rigney after one of these. I was lying on the ground and a 25 lb second row came towards me and was looking like he was targeting my head only to be nudged by Brian. It was a very, very physical game. Indeed, poor Dean Oswald, our no. 8, was lucky too come out with his intact as well.

If I'd known that now, God, there'd have been bunga bunga parties and everything

Were you aware that the Milan rugby team had a very flamboyant chairman?  We didn't meet with him now. I don't know was he in the crowd. If I'd known that now, God, there'd have been bunga bunga parties and everything.

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Would you agree moving from Munster to Leinster is worse than moving from Celtic to Rangers?  I'd say it's probably similar. Is it the same? Funnily enough I think both of them help each other. When you look at what's happened to Rangers now, if yo talk to any Glaswegian Celtic fans and they're very much, 'what's the point anymore when yo don't have a competitive Rangers?' I think its the same with Munster and Leinster. I think the Leinster supporters probably want a stronger Munster and vice versa.

Was it strange moving from one to the other?  Yeah, always. I was lucky enough never to lose for one side against the other from all levels. But yeah, putting an Irish jersey on to play against England was like playing for Munster against Leinster. There was always that competitiveness. When you came up to play for Leinster, you knew what you were going to get on the other side. You always get a particularly nice welcome from the Munster pack if you've actually left. Except for my brothers, they did look after me once or twice when on the other side.

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So, let me get this straight. You were the common denominator in victory on every occasion in these games? (NUJ membership car presented NYPD style during the asking of this question)   Obviously. I think it has to be pointed out at this stage. Mind you, I did lose twice for Saracens, both in the last minute, against Munster one season. But for Munster-Leinster... there's a couple of draws there I think at u-20s, one for Munster against Leinster and we drew one senior game in Musgrave Park in around 2002, but other than that, yeah, clean sheet.

So, would you like us to place that fact front and centre in any future profile?  Well, obviously, that's it. I don't have many great records so I might as well throw that one out.

It's bad enough if you're in a changing room being slagged off, but if you're being slagged off in another language, you can't even defend yourself.

Which of the other Six Nations teams would you least like to play with?   Everyone's got their positives and negatives.... See, Italy, you've got the food, haven't you, the food and wine. But I've very poor Italian. It's bad enough if you're in a changing room being slagged off, but if you're being slagged off in another language, you can't even defend yourself.

Right Italy so. Hypothetical one here. You've just suffered a rush of blood to the head and have stolen a pile of Franken Walters CD's from a HMV in Cork and you've to make a quick getaway. Who do you choose as you're getaway driver, taking into account speed, nerve and reliability - Richard Wallace, David Wallace or your non-relation, Paddy Wallace?   

Richard Wallace. He's a pilot. So, he likes to drive quickly.

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He's born for this role?  Born for it. Loves his speed. Daredevil. Wingers are used to going quicker than the rest of us.

Ye all had very different positions on a rugby pitch. Usually brothers have similar skill-sets.   Well, that was to stop us going at each other I guess.  I used to play with my brother Richie and he was on the wing and I was prop and sure we'd hardly see each other during a game. When you were playing against each other, it also made it a bit easier. I was a back row to start with though so there was a little bit of familiarity with Dave on that one. And my other brother Henry was also a flanker with Irish flanker.

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I see. What was the worst ground you ever played in?  That's a tough one...

Some dank pit in Wales probably...  Yeah, there was a few up in the highveld in South Africa there was a couple as well, up in Kimberley. I always found Pontypridd very, em.... but you know what sometimes you enjoy the culture there. The intimidating venues are sometimes the better venues. You get a bit more out of them. King's Park Stadium is definitely the best.

 

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Interesting... Peter Crouch was once asked what he'd be if he wasn't a footballer and he answered 'virgin.' Is there any rugby player you know who could give the same answer?   (Skilfully dodging the thrust of the question) Who's the quickest witted? David Flatman. He's the sharpest man around. Played with him at Saracens. He's a former Bath player as well. One of the quickest.

If you were hosting a dinner party who are the people you'd least like to invite?  For questions like this you're not getting the nod. So you're on the banned list. Flatman, for being too funny. And who else... that's two anyway... (reaching for names)

Anyone you'd really like to invite?   The standard answer is Nelson Mandela, but he's not around anymore... who'd I like... Steve Buscemi

Okay, Why? Just a fine actor  A fine actor... (reaching for names) and you'd have to have Bono along

Really?  Yeah, I'm probably the only person in Dublin without a Bono story...

Well that's a probably only a good thing. Would you rather never be allowed watch rugby again or be stuck in a lift with George Hook for the week?   Ah, a week with George would be all-right. I'd get by. He'd have to run out of steam at some stage

You've formidable mental strength, clearly?  I'd like to think so. Two Cork men, you see.

Ah yes, well that's a good way to finish. Thanks Paul!   Thanks Off The Cuff (this back an forth never happened - he was never likely to thank an inanimate object like a first edition of a new Balls.ie series but lets say he did and move on, he actually ripped off his mic and left me in the lift with a sobbing George Hook).

 

 

 

 

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