Rugby legend overcomes injury to be ‘honest man’

Paul O'Connell

Rugby legend Paul O’Connell was so crocked from injury he couldn’t go down on one knee to propose to his wife-to-be, Emily.

The Ireland lock and his long-time partner are due to get married in France next week. O’Connell told RTÉ radio that Emily was “relaxed” about the wedding and joked that he “thought she’d never ask me to be honest”.

He also admitted that his injuries had ensured that his proposal would be a little different from the traditional “down on one knee approach”.

“We went for a picnic with Paddy [their son]. I actually had a knee injury at the time, so I didn’t get down on one knee which is a bit of a regret really because everyone asked then subsequently did I and I said, ‘I didn’t really’.”

O’Connell also said his three-year-old son, Paddy, is only learning to make a distinction between Paul O’Connell as “Daddy” and Paul O’Connell the rugby star he sees on television.

“He’s beginning to cop it a little bit now. When he watches a match and, if you asked him if that’s Dad, he says ‘That’s not Dad, that’s Paul O’Connell’. So he thinks we are kind of two different people kind of. He knows a little bit now. Anytime I’m leaving the house he says ‘Are you going rugby training’? or ‘Are you going to a rugby match?’ or whatever so he gets it a little bit,” he said.

The Limerick legend also spoke of the “fantastic” experience of finally being on a winning Lions tour, but admitted that being limited to only playing one test due to injury meant the experience was bittersweet .

“It was fantastic. I was obviously disappointed to get injured after the first test, but it was something I have worked hard to get on. I was probably lucky to make it in the end so I was really determined to enjoy the experience.

“I enjoyed the last two weeks but it’s not the same as playing. I mean, if you look at the celebrations in the dressing room after. The guys that started and played are the guys in the middle and there is a few of us in suits on the outside trying to be part of it but not feeling really part of it.”

As for retirement plans, O’Connell admitted it was something he was thinking about as he approaches the twilight of his career.

“Unfortunately when you hit 30, it’s one of the main things you think about, because you’ve lived in this bubble for so long. One of the things I’m involved in is Pinergy, a pay-as-you-go electricity company where you can take control of your own electricity bills.

“Will this be my future job after rugby? I’m not too sure. I’d like to do a bit of coaching and see how that goes. It’s a job I’d be really interested in but it’s a tough job as well, a lot of stress.”


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