Ronan O'Gara sounds like a chap you'd want to avoid for your Irish rugby initiation 6 years ago

Ronan O'Gara sounds like a chap you'd want to avoid for your Irish rugby initiation

There is a long-held tradition in Irish rugby circles - make your Test debut and you get your absolute fill of booze.

The game has gone from the amateur to professional era but once you get your first cap, you will have to sink your fair share of alcohol from any player - teammate or opponent - that offers you a tipple.


While Luke Fitzgerald avoided the worst of this initiation by sneaking out early during a 2006 post-match function, most players that partake in a drink will have to sing a song and get inebriated.

On this week's episode of The Hard Yards rugby podcast [below], Stephen Ferris and Kevin McLaughlin shared some class tales from their Irish rugby initiations. One name kept cropping up too - Ronan O'Gara.

Ferris explained how, after his debut against Pacific Islands in 2006 [the same game as Fitzgerald and Jamie Heaslip], he had to stand up in front of both teams, coaches and more than 400 people including a lot of "alickadoos" [IRFU blazers].


"You have to down a drink and sing a song... I sang the Fresh Prince of Bel Air song as I knew I'd remember the words."

He continued, "As the night goes on, you're getting drunker and drunker, and you have the likes of Ronan O'Gara coming up to you with a pint glass of red wine. He drinks a pint of wine, you drink a pint of wine and next minute someone else is walking up to you with a drink. It can be a long night or a very, very short night."

For McLaughlin, his initiation came not long after he made his debut against Italy in 2010. The former Leinster flanker travelled to Paris as back-up to Ferris for a Six Nations date with France.

Ferris ended up playing the game but the Irish players had not forgotten about his initiation. McLaughlin commented:


"I had plans for a lovely Autumn week in Paris and didn't see it coming at all... Ferris had a couple of mates for his initiation but I was flying solo.

"We lost the game and didn't play particularly well so I thought there was no way they would do it that night. And then ROG [O'Gara] tipped my on the shoulder.

"I turned around and he had a pint of something in his hand. Well, two pints of something. He knocked one back, winked at me and handed me the other. I knocked it back."

McLaughlin jokes that he started off feeling pretty confident about making it through the night in one piece but all that changed when he bumped into French hooker William Servat and a "bowl" of mint apértif called Pastis.

"It all went downhill from there," he remarked.