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08th Mar 2023

Paul O’Connell on the Munster tradition that’s still used to settle arguments

Patrick McCarry

Paul O'Connell

“I’d grown up with Mick Galwey, Anthony Foley, Keith Wood around me.”

Paul O’Connell felt, for many years, that some of the men that had captained him at Munster were ‘these inspirational men that made things happen by force of will’. It was only when he became captain himself that he discovered even these great men had moments of doubt and worry.

Ahead of the Six Nations, the Munster, Ireland and Lions legend caught up with Sam Warburton, for his ‘Captains’ podcast. As well as speaking of the Munster heroes that inspired him and Roy Keane roasting Ronan O’Gara, he opened up on a Munster tradition that is still alive and well.

“We believed, at the time,” he said, of his playing days when Munster were at the Heineken Cup peak [mid 2000s], “we were such good friends and we trusted each other so much that we could be really tough on each other.

“I know, when you go on the Lions tours, some of the players get pissed off with some of the Irish guys because they give out to each other so much, but that’s what we believed in. It’s the same across the other Irish provinces, too, but I think we’ve tempered that a good bit and found a good balance with it.

“Back then, in the Munster changing room, you did’t hold back from each other. On the training field, if someone didn’t know stuff, we didn’t hold back on one another. People didn’t take it personally. We have this thing that whenever things got a little bit heated, we used to have this ‘Kiss and Make Up’ rule.

“I’m sure every team does it, but we’d all gather in a circle and whoever got into an argument, they had to kiss on the lip and make up before training would finish. From a HR point of view, and every other business in the world, you’d probably be in jail for it! But it was our way of saying, it stays on the rugby pitch.”

You can see what O’Connell is talking about in this Sky Sports clip from 2017, two years after the second row played his last game with Munster. The practice started in training but was often applied after matches.

Here, we see CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony making up in the ‘away’ changing rooms after tearing at each other during a league win over Glasgow Warriors.

“We can be tough on each other but it stays on the rugby pitch,” Paul O’Connell explained to Sam Warburton. “You can’t take it with you.

“When you have to kiss someone else on the lips, it generally ends up being a bit of a laugh.”


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