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Rugby

31st Dec 2022

Peter O’Mahony features in two of the year’s 10 biggest rugby stories

Patrick McCarry

No better buck, too.

They may have a combined age of 70, but Peter O’Mahony and Johnny Sexton proved, this year, how crucial they remain for their provinces and for Ireland.

We have already looked back on our Top 10 GAA stories of 2022, so it was only right to do likewise for rugby. We are the No.1 ranked Test side in the world, after all.

It was a year in which a tough loss in Paris ended Grand Slam hopes, a Triple Crown win saw some silverware bagged, La Rochelle did for Leinster again, the Sevens sides did us proud, the All Blacks were slayed in their lair, some decent contracts awarded to the women’s 15s players and Josh van der Flier finished as World Rugby Player of the Year.

All are touched upon, in some manner or other, in our Top 10 rugby stories of the year. Listed (below) are the 10 stories that got the most traction, and interaction, on SportsJOE in 2022.

10. Ireland cruelly miss out on Rugby World Cup Sevens final despite ‘mother of all upsets’

Ireland Men’s Sevens team were beaten by New Zealand in the World Cup final, but not before pulling off ‘the mother of all upsets’ and defeating hosts South Africa in front of a packed out home crowd.

9. Johnny Sexton delivered a cold-blooded interview after Ireland’s historic victory

Peter O'Mahony

Minutes after Ireland claimed their first ever win over the All Blacks on New Zealand soil, captain Johnny Sexton let it be known that the tourists were going all-out for victory in the decider.

“We are delighted with the win but, as I said, we have a chance to win a series here, and they don’t come along too often. So, let’s build for next week.”

8. Nigel Owens and Mike Ross fight Tadhg Furlong’s corner after rough ride

Tadhg Furlong was given a tough scrummaging go-over by England’s Ellis Genge but looks, were were told, could be deceiving. Both Nigel Owens and former Ireland tighthead rode to Furlong’s defence and suggested what Genge was doing was not exactly legal.

7. Dylan Hartley sends message to Ireland after England beat Wallabies

England beat Australia 21-17 to clinch a series win, Down Under, but their former captain was already looking ahead to bigger challenges in 2023. Eyeing France and Ireland as the leading teams in world rugby, Hartley cautioned that Ireland may be firing on all cylinders a year too soon.

Time will tell, Dylan.

6. Kiwi commentator pulls out sublime Keith Earls quote after his try assist

Keith Earls

Keith Earls pulled off a lovely try assist for Jordan Larmour, back in July, as Ireland avenged their tour-opening defeat to the Maori All Blacks, in New Zealand. One Kiwi commentator had a great line about ‘sharp as a tack’ Earls, during that Ireland ‘A’ win.

5. “Of course it’s not the right call because they haven’t won the game” – Brian O’Driscoll

Ireland’s big slip-up of the year came against France, in Paris, and it cost them the Grand Slam. On commentary duty for ITV, former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll was trying not to be too harsh while questioning a late decision to kick for points, rather than aim for an attacking lineout.

4. Stuart Hogg fires back at Scottish reporters in spiky post-match press conference

The Scotland captain fluffed a great scoring chance in a defeat to Ireland but still felt the rugby reporters that covered his side were being too “negative”. At one stage, he commented:

“Classic move – we’ve picked out the negatives to look at… We’re looking at five seconds of an 80-minute performance. So, yeah, fair play.”

3. Jonny Wilkinson makes great James Ryan point that many people are forgetting

While a lot of fans and pundits were arguing over whether England forward Charlie Ewels should have been sent off for a high shot on James Ryan, Jonny Wilkinson tool time out to express heartfelt concern for the Irish lock.

2. Peter O’Mahony comments to Sam Cane picked up during Ireland’s historic victory

Peter O'Mahony

God bless ref mics!

Seconds after Ireland held up the All Blacks and denied them a late try, in the dramatic Second Test, Peter O’Mahony shared some brusque thoughts with their captain, Sam Cane.

“Who do you think you are? You’re a shit Richie McCaw, pal!”

1. Referee mic picks up classic Peter O’Mahony comeback to Springboks star

Four months later and the Munster back-row was jawing away to the world champion Springboks, on another night when Ireland finished on the winning side. O’Mahony was letting any Bok within range know what he made of them, but he was picked up on the ref mic with one classic rejoinder.

When we asked him about some of these comments, in November, O’Mahony told us:

“Look, this is part of rugby. There’s always chat going on and, unfortunately, some of it is picked up, some of it isn’t. At the end of the day, it’s all – nine times out of 10, unless someone has taken real offence to something – it’s forgotten after the final whistle.”

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