It’s only a bit of claret!
Paul O’Connell has always demanded that his teammates give it their all when they’re on the pitch with him. If he caught a younger player staying down for a few seconds and there were no broken bones, or no signs of a concussion- he’d challenge them about it.
Some excellent passages have been surfacing all week from his new book and this one is certainly one of our favourites. Mike Ford worked as Ireland’s defence coach from 2002 until 2006. Apparently he once showed O’Connell an interesting strip of film.
A player goes down with a cut in his eye. Play goes on. The team defends for five or six phases without their team-mate. Then a physio comes in and straps him up and he trots back into position.
“Why?” Ford asked. “It’s only a bit of claret.”
O’Connell says Ford’s comments stuck with him from that day, and he has a message for all aspiring rugby players.
“That stayed with me,” says O’Connell, “because when I was young, if you got a big cut on your head you were inclined to stay down and hold it. But you actually don’t need to.
“Look at GAA games or the old days in the hurling when they had no helmets and fellas playing with blood all over their faces and not a bother. And I’d be worrying now about kids’ parents reading this: but it struck me. It’s only a bit of claret! Get back in the D line. A break will come when you can get strapped.”
There you have it lads, remember- it’s only a bit of claret!