The shape I'm in - Tommy Bowe

Irene Feighan talks to Ireland and Ulster rugby star Tommy Bowe about his health, diet and guilty pleasures.
The shape I'm in -  Tommy Bowe

AWKWARD it the simple tag-line Tommy Bowe attaches to an Instagram post from an outdoor fashion shoot for his XV Kings clothing collection.

But surely the Irish International rugby player is used to standing in front of the camera? “It’s fine when you’re in a studio and no one else can see you. But when you have to go out in the street and people looking at you — it’s pretty awkward,” says the 33-year-old.

Naturally, his teammates are only too happy to tease him about the smoldering pictures.

“It’s non-stop,” he says. “They are full of slagging until they start wondering when they are they going to get a new top or pair of shoes.” (He also runs Lloyd & Pryce footwear.)

With a postgraduate diploma in business management in his back pocket, he’s long been aware of the need to develop a career off the pitch. “I do enjoy having something outside of rugby to take your mind off rugby all the time which I think is a positive thing to do.

“I enjoying chatting to the guys involved with the clothes and the shoes. I find it really interesting and to go and talk to some customers, shop owners, and discuss different designs. It’s the real world compared to rugby which is so much of a bubble.”

From Monaghan, he is now living in Belfast with his wife Lucy.

The couple announced the birth of Emma in April.

“The first few months were pretty difficult — huge credit is due to my wife Lucy for doing an incredible job.

“I’ve had my fair share of sleepless nights. Although I haven’t been able to do much.

“Thankfully she’s become a good sleeper — I think she’s like her mum and her dad — she enjoys her sleep. Hopefully, we can continue with that.”

And now Emma’s six months old, she’s beginning to notice more about the world around her. “Coming in from training, she recognises my voice. It’s really special.”

- Tommy Bowe is an ambassador for Subway, the official sponsor of Sport for Schools, a programme that helps primary schools raise money for PE equipment and gives children access to fitness circuits run by top-class athletes. For details see:

What shape are you in?

At the moment I’m in pretty good shape. I’m injury free, which is great. We’re on the pitch for an hour and a half once or twice a day. We’re in the gym for an hour a day. On Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday we’ll have tough training days. Wednesday would normally be in training for an hour or so. For matches, we would usually train on a Friday or Saturday.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I tend to lose weight when training, so I have to eat more and get my calorie intake up. It’s a nice way to be. Unfortunately, it’s not all extra Chinese food and fish and chips. I keep a balanced diet. On a training day, we’d have four main meals a day: 40% carbs, 40% protein, and 20% vegetables.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

After dinner in the evening, I enjoy a cup of tea with a biscuit or two. I mix it up. It could be a packet of custard creams — nothing too exciting.

How do you relax?

If I’ve any time off I try to get home and spend time with Lucy and Emma. And maybe take Bonny — our cocker spaniel — out for a walk.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Richard Branson, Arnold Schwarzenegger — I just read his book, he’s a very driven man — and Roger Federer, I’d like to hear how he came back to win two matches this year.

What’s your favourite smell?

Freshly cut grass — which means I finally got round to cutting it.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

Plenty of things. Playing rugby, it could be a broken nose and a few broken fingers but I’m not going to fix it now. In any professional sport there’s a bit of wear and tear on the body.

When is the last time you cried?

I welled up when Emma was born. I was as close to crying as I could have been.

What traits do you least like in others?

People who don’t have good road manners can annoy me. I try not to get too upset about things.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I can be a bit impatient. In trying to manage everything it’s hard to get time for everything. But I think we’re managing to get by — just about.

Do you pray?

I’d say the odd prayer. I wouldn’t consider myself overly religious — I still believe there is probably a higher being.

What would cheer up your day?

If the rain would go away — it’s pouring down outside.

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