"Copperface Jacks? Never heard of it!" - Ashley-Cooper on Wallabies infamous Dublin night out
"I don’t know what it is with the Irish and this Dublin 6!"
It started out as a nice meal out at a city centre restaurant and ended up with 'a big drama, someone getting carried into the hotel' and 15 Australian players receiving knuckle-raps of varying forced.
Back in 2013, the Wallabies were in Dublin for training and preparation against an Ireland side with new head coach Joe Schmidt at the helm. Leading the Aussies was Ewen 'Link' McKenzie and he had a squad stacked with star names such Israel Folau, Adam Ashley Cooper, Will Genia and Michael Hooper and James Horwill.
Australia had opened their tour with a tight loss to England, at Twickenham, but a 50-20 win over Italy had lifted spirits. Ireland and Wales were next on the agenda, and McKenzie's men were in good spirits when they landed in Dublin.
Many of the squad headed out for beers on the Monday night but the focus was supposed to be on the game from Tuesday onward. The players stuck to that script when they went out for a meal, that night, but the hours that followed saw half the touring squad eventually get either warned for their conduct or suspended. Six of them even made the front page of an Irish tabloid.
On House of Rugby Ireland [LISTEN from 30:30 below], Adam Ashley Cooper and Scott Fardy gave their take of 'The Dublin 6' incident and how the match itself played out.
The latest House of Rugby was a mini reunion of that Ireland vs. Australia game in November 2013.
Fergus McFadden and Ian Madigan both played in that game, with Adam Ashley-Cooper on the right wing and Scott Fardy at blindside for the Aussies. The Ireland starting XV had nine players that had toured with the British & Irish Lions, Down Under, earlier that year, but the Aussies were on a different level.
"We had heard, in the Irish squad," McFadden recalls, "that the Aussies had come over and they were enjoying themselves. We just didn’t know to what extent, but there were rumours that they had been in Copperface Jacks for a few nights of the week. Do you have anything to say about that, Adam?"
"Copperface Jacks?" Ashley-Cooper replied. "Never heard of it!
"Look, all I remember is we went for a lovely team dinner at, I think it was Jamie Heaslip’s restaurant, somewhere there in town. And then we went to Red Temple [Temple Bar], just for a couple. We were looking for a nice, little diner on the way back to the hotel - to get a bit of a night-cap and a feed. And we were pointed in the direction of Copperfield Jacks.
"The locals had sent us there. We thought we were going to a diner. Anyway, we stayed for one or two!"
The players did frequent Krystle nightclub, too, on their busy night. Ashley-Cooper, who played 121 Tests for Australia, acknowledges that some in the player group took it too far but still maintains that a couple of midweek beers with teammates can be beneficial.
"I think there’s a lot to be said for a couple of beers, during the week, with your teammates and getting away from the game," he says.
"Bonding and forging those deeper relationships outside of the game. Keeping it very relaxed, but making sure you’re finding that balance, because that obviously transfers itself on to the pitch on a weekend."
Although McKenzie did not speak out about the incident until after the game, which Australia won 32-15, stories and images of the players on their night out were in high circulation. It caused a stir in Australia, too, as Ashley-Cooper's mum even went on a local radio station to defend her son.
Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill were all suspended for the next game, against Wales, while Paddy Ryan was suspended for two games. Nine other players, including Fardy, Kane Douglas and Bernard Foley, received warnings.
"It obviously hit the papers in Ireland," McFadden recalls, "and I’m sure it was a nightmare for you guys - dealing with the press, back home - but it was amazing how the Aussie team came together and how it galvanised you.
"You almost had that siege mentality and went out and put in a great performance. I think you guys would probably have went out and beat anyone, that day."
"Yeah," Ashley-Cooper agrees, "fortunately for us, it certainly worked.
"We went out for a few beers on a Tuesday night. And look, I understand that it’s a professional game now and you needed to treat your preparation professionally. But, like I said, there’s a lot to be said for going for a few beers with your teammates, during the week.
"For us, the outcome and result of that night, like you said, the media on top of our backs. It certainly brought us together and we had a pack mentality going into the Irish on Saturday night. I think we put a record score on the Irish so, I don’t know, you do the math!"
Warned that any more gloating would lead to him being cut off, Ashley-Cooper remarked, "Well, you lads keep circling back to that Tuesday night. I don’t know what it is with the Irish and this Dublin 6!"
CATCH THAT FULL INTERVIEW HERE: