The best match of his life also probably generated more nerves than any games he played for Muster, Ireland, or the Lions as rugby legend Paul O’Connell married his long-term girlfriend, Emily O’Leary in France at the weekend.
The couple celebrated the happy occasion with a host of friends and colleagues from the world of rugby in glorious sunshine at the Sainte Marie cathedral in the French town of Auch.
The south-west of France is a familiar location for O’Connell: Over the past 15 years he has played numerous Heineken Cup matches there for Munster.
Among the many guests were past and present teammates, including Ronan O’Gara and wife Jessica, Donncha O’Callaghan and wife Jenny, Alan Quinlan, Jerry Flannery, Mick Galwey, Frankie Sheehan, Peter Clohessy, and Keith Wood.
Wearing a smart, blue suit, O’Connell arrived early at the church in the company of his brother and best man, Marcus and groomsmen, his brother Justin and Emily’s brother, Paul O’Leary.
Arriving fashionably late in a vintage car accompanied by her father, Pat, the bride wore a stunning dress of white chantilly lace with a headdress of white flowers and feathers.
Emily’s sisters, Stephanie and Danielle and best friend, Lorraine Murray were her bridesmaids.
Her flower girl was the groom’s niece, Julie O’Connell, while the couple’s 3-year-old son, Paddy walked up the aisle at the head of the bridal party clutching his favourite cuddly toy.
In a recent interview, Paul joked that he had left most of the organisation of the couple’s wedding to Emily as he was on tour with the Lions.
The local authority marked the occasion by flying the Irish Tricolour outside the town hall in Auch.
The wedding reception was held in the 18th century Chateau Lartigolle in the nearby town of Pessan where guests enjoyed an al fresco meal with a spit-roast on an open barbecue.
The couple will squeeze in a honeymoon before O’Connell resumes training for the new season with Munster.
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