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Rugby

01st Aug 2023

“It got quite physical!” – Ireland stars on social committee event that quickly got competitive

Patrick McCarry

Dave Kilcoyne

“Only a few of heavy hitters were left standing!”

Chatting to Ross Byrne recently, we asked the outhalf for the Ireland teammate that brings smiles to the most faces. Without hesitation, he replied, “Dave Kilcoyne leads the social committee so he’s always great for a laugh.”

During a couple more Ireland player interviews, in the past week, we dug into that social committee a bit more, and the Limerick man who acts as ringleader.

“Obviously there’s a social committee in place,” Tadhg Furlong told us. “I think Killer heads it up with a few of his amigos.

“So they usually try to organise events and games. We played musical chairs, there, one night before dinner. Lads! It was big men and small chairs. It got competitive, quick!”

“They are involved in organising a bit of craic, and sorting some social events,” says Hugo Keenan of the committee. “Whether that is an around the world darts competition, a bit of table tennis or a putting competition. Anything for a bit of light competition, and entertainment, to get the squad together.”

On that musical chairs competition, Keenan starts to laugh when pressed for more details.

“Yeah, Killer was leading it and it got quite physical! I don’t think anyone was expecting it.

“Anyone less than 100 kilos got turfed out pretty quickly. There was only a few of the heavy-hitters left standing.”

Dave Kilcoyne

Dave Kilcoyne and social committee sort F1 simulator

When the lads are not busy knocking lumps out of each other to claim the last chair, as the music stops, there is plenty else to do, thanks to Dave Kilcoyne and his “amigos” in the social committee.

“We’ve got speakers into the team room,” said Tadhg Furlong. “Lads playing table tennis. We got a driving simulator, one of F1 ones in, last week. A bit of trying to get the fast time.

“I tell you one thing it is hard to complete a lap in those things. They are. Madness. I’m not sure, but you get a whole new appreciation for it. You think it’s just driving but, I’ll tell you one thing, into barricades, spinning around left, right and centre.”

“We had a few lads in, a bit of music,” the Leinster tighthead added. “We had a rock climber in, Kenton Cool. He’s after summiting Everest I don’t know how many times [17] and K2. Just to try and learn from that. He’s obviously all about high performance but there’s a bit of learning in there, and also some good stories along the way.”

“Kenton was just talking to us about the team effort that goes into those climbs,” said Hugo Keenan, “and the collaboration behind it. The team-work and leadership that is needed.”

In terms of musical guests, Greg Harrington stands out to Keenan. “He’s an incredibly talented musician. He had two back-up chello and bass players and [on his violin] was playing everything from Led Zeppelin and Zombie [Cranberries] to classical hits and his own stuff.

“It was something where a lot of us didn’t know what to expect, but we were all blown away. He’s an incredibly talented violinist and fiddle player.”

Joke and thought of the day

A sub-section of that Dave Kilcoyne led social committee is ‘Joke of the Day’ and ‘Thought of the Day’. These are usually reserved for when the squad is all on the team bus.

One of the changes brought in when Andy Farrell took over from Joe Schmidt was the players travelling separately from coaches and staff on the bus to and from training, and matches. On the last Ireland tour, to New Zealand, newcomers Cian Prendergast and Joe McCarthy had to share those tasks.

“In New Zealand, myself and Joe McCarthy were on thought of the day,” said Prendergast. “It could be anything really, just whatever’s in your head. Big Joe’s really good for that to be fair, he can come out with some interesting thoughts… Honestly, I don’t know what that man sometimes but they could be from his head. He’s always interesting.”

When we were out at the IRFU’s High Performance Centre, Jimmy O’Brien said there would be a couple of social outings, too, before the squad embark to France for the World Cup, next month.

“It’s good craic, we obviously spend a bit of time together and have a few drinks or whatever,” he said. “I’m sure the [social committee] are planning something like a dinner where we can go and decompress and relax. Hopefully something like that when we go away [for warm weather camp] too.”

Tadhg FurlongIreland international and Leinster rugby player Tadhg Furlong, alongside students from Good Counsel College in New Ross, who had teamed up with Rugby Players Ireland for a new content series centred on his journey back to his old school to spotlight the work of the Tackle Your Feelings Schools programme. (Credit ©INPHO/Evan Treacy)

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