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18th May 2023

Peter O’Mahony with two best jokes of the night at the Rugby Players Ireland awards

Patrick McCarry

Peter O'Mahony

Get the man off the auto-cue and it is comedy gold.

Peter O’Mahony was in top form, in his role as Rugby Players Ireland chairperson, as the players body held their annual awards ceremony at the Clayton Hotel, in Dublin, on Wednesday.

The Munster captain was joined at the event by teammate Jack Crowley, who picked up the Nevin Spence Men’s Young Player of the Year Award. The bulk of the Munster squad flew out to South Africa in advance of the URC final against Stormers. O’Mahony, Crowley and a few others will be following on.

RPI award hosts, on the night, were former Munster and Ulster players Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble. The only thing safe to say about their presenting style is that no province, player or union was safe from the slaggings.

Caelan Doris won Men’s XVs player of the year and spoke of the team spirit sessions encouraged by Andy Farrell, joking, “I think I drank more during the Six Nations than I did at any other time of the year!”

There was a lot of support on the night for the Ireland Women’s XV side, who endured a forgettable Six Nations. The word “challenging” was mentioned a lot, but the fact that professional contracts have been awarded to a core group will hopefully see these players start a rapid ascent.

A popular winner was Nichola Fryday, who won Women’s XVs try of the year. Fryday was a resolute presence on the pitch for Ireland and represented her side magnificently off it. The Women’s Sevens side also got rapturous applause for winning Olympic qualification at last weekend’s Toulouse 7s tournament.

Best gags of the night, though, came courtesy of Peter O’Mahony. The first was in his opening address while the second arrived when he accepted an award on behalf of Ireland teammate Mack Hansen.

Peter O'MahonyJohnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony pictured at the RPI awards. (Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane)

Peter O’Mahony on Mack Hansen

Over the course of the night, Peter O’Mahony was up on the stage. He delivered the chairperson’s address, first, and came out with a cracking joke before going through his welcoming remarks to those in attendance.

O’Mahony remarked that he was nervous addressing such a large crowd but ‘not as nervous after waking up to about 400 notifications on your phone’ the day after the celebrating Ireland squad paid a visit to Garry Ringrose’s house and brought a load of their fathers out drinking.

Late in the event, Mack Hansen was awarded Senior Men’s XVs try of the year for a score he bagged for Ireland against South Africa. O’Mahony accepted the prize on Hansen’s behalf – Connacht were having their own end-of-season awards on the same night.

The Cork native said he was surprised the well-worked Hugo Keenan try that flummoxed France, in the Six Nations, did not win the gong, before going on to wax lyrical about Hansen. O’Mahony remarked:

“I think Andy [Farrell] called him up because he was great craic… then he started to play well.”

“Mack is exactly like you’d see on your TV,” he added. “He’s completely off his fecking game!”

O’Mahony, like Johnny Sexton, is clearly a huge fan of the Connacht winger and said he blew everyone away at how laid-back he was, and how he spoke, when he was first called into the Ireland squad, back in January 2022. In a short time, Hansen has certainly made a big impression.

Peter O'MahonyCaelan Doris and Jack Crowley (above) and RPI awards hosts Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble. (Credit ©INPHO/Bryan Keane)

The RPI awards first came into being in 2003 with Malcolm O’Kelly being the first recipient of the Senior Men’s XV accolade.

Barry Murphy joked that while Andrew Trimble won the award himself once, back in 2014, he was trumped by Tommy Bowe again as the Ulster and Ireland legend won it on two occasions.

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