When Paul O’Connell laid down the law to Murray and O’Mahony on Munster team bus
The ‘red mist’ immediately descended.
The All Blacks squad are very much into newbies earning their spot on the team bus, and biding their time before they join ‘the big dogs’ down in the back row. Ardie Savea once commented, “The coaches normally take up the first two rows, after the driver, then it’s the new fellas.
“It’s based on Test caps so whatever number you have, the further back you sit. Back down here is where the big dogs sit – Reado [Kieran Read], Jerome [Kaino], Owey [Owen Franks].”
Kaino is off in the Top 14 now and surely dominating back rows of many a French bus. The likes of Ben Smith, Aaron Smith and Beauden Barrett are all well established now so there would have been no shortage of lads to take Kaino’s place.
The Munster team bus operated on a similar, hierarchical basis for many a year but there was a brief coup instigated by the likes of Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony and Keith Earls not long after they had all broken into the senior set-up.
Barry Murphy brilliantly recalled the short-lived changing of the guard during the latest episode of Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby[from 42:00 below]. It was left to then-captain Paul O’Connell to put an end to it.
“We had a… let’s call it a squad day out,” Murphy began, “where we went out and had the craic. We were on a bus and there was about 40 on it – from the development [squad] right up to the senior players.
“We went out on the bus and we stopped off halfway for a drink. We went to leave an hour later and all the young players had safety belted themselves into the back row, where all the hard, old-school boys usually sit.
“It was the likes of Conor Murray, Peter O’Mahony, Keith Earls, Dave Foley, Tommy O’Donnell, Mike Sherry. It was brilliant. They put on their safety belts and they had megaphones and signs, as if they were a union. It was like, ‘HELL NO, WE WON’T GO!'”
When it came time for the bus to set off, Paul O’Connell let the impudence stand. That was until Doug Howlett sidled up to the captain and said, “Wouldn’t happen on my watch, mate.”
That was it, and O’Connell needed no more encouragement. Murphy continued:
“He just gathered Tony Buckley – Mushy, Mick O’Driscoll and John Hayes.
“Paulie just went back and let’s just say they moved. Actually, before that, Paulie turned and goes, ‘Right’.
“And he turned away, and then he turned back to me and he took his front teeth out and he handed me his teeth. And he was like, ‘Hold onto them a second kid’, and then they went back and they moved them, let’s say.”
The mutiny was ended right then and there and the old-school gang regained their seats in the back row.