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02nd Mar 2021

“There would be a boot in the sink, a dish there, a toothbrush under the bed!”

Patrick McCarry


“It would look like someone has ransacked your room.”

Finding the perfect roommate for away trips is not an exact science and there can be several botched experiments before a good match is found. That is why so many players opt to team up and will not be parted.

Younger squad players are often roomed up with more experienced folks, to help them find their feet. After years of service, you may even have the clout – like Brian O’Driscoll – to get a whole room to yourself.

The likes of O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara often got the silver service when they were in Ireland camp. Former Ulster and Ireland flanker Stephen Ferris once told us:

“Drico always parked his car not in the main car park but outside the team room because… he could do that. So he hops out of his car and he comes in through the fire escape. He doesn’t come through the normal door, it’s the fire escape.”

For the majority of players, however, they must share rooms with teammates and take all the good, bad and ugly that comes with it.

The topic of worst roommates generated much chat and laughter [LISTEN from 29:00 below] in the latest episode of House of Rugby Ireland.

For the guts of a decade, Fergus McFadden roomed with Sean Cronin on Leinster away trips and whenever the pair were selected together for international duty.

“We would have been really tight mates, so it was ideal,” McFadden recalled.

“But the thing about Sean, the night before a match, was if you don’t get to sleep before him, you’re going to struggle to get a good night’s sleep. He literally snores like a horse that’s getting strangled to death, you know what I mean?!

“Also, if you arrived at the hotel and dropped your bags off, go down and come back up after a bit of grub, and settle in for the night, it would look like someone has ransacked your room. There would be a boot in the sink, a dish there, toothbrush under the bed!”

Ian Madigan had a similar arrangement – for Leinster and Ireland – with the versatile Luke Fitzgerald. The Ulster outhalf recalls the time Fitzgerald tried to impress Rory McIlroy when the four-time Major winner visited Ireland’s camp during the 2015 World Cup.

“Obviously, you’re enjoying the good times but there is a serious side to it as well,” he said. “Leading into a game you are nervous, and you have that special bond with your roommate. He can quell your nerves.”

“But I remember back at the World Cup, I was rooming with Lukey when McIlroy came in as a guest. We went up to have a look, and were on the driving range with him.

“I’m sure plenty of people have seen the video, but Lukey was offered by Rory to take a shot. He got up and… Lukey, in fairness to him, is actually a great golfer, but whatever reason – between his groin injury and neck problem – he hadn’t swung a golf club for two years.

“Anyone else would have just went, ‘Right, I’ll just knock it down – 75% – 250 (yard) drive and happy out’. Lukey was thinking, ‘I’m going to grip and rip, and show Rory what I’ve got here!’ and obviously made a complete mess of it. Topped it, let go of the club. But we went back to the room and the video was put out, and it went viral pretty quickly.”

When McFadden correctly recalled that Fitzgerald had broken McIlroy’s driver, Madigan remarked, “He was handing it back and the thing was rattling, like!”

House of Rugby host Eimear Considine needed a nudge to give up any tales on her roommate, but she eventually pulled out a tale that Madigan could relate to.

“My roommate is Ailsa Hughes. She’ll kill me for this but she goes around the room in her underwear, 99% of the time, because she’s either moisturising herself or tanning herself. And she’s either waiting for it to dry, or something.”

“Sounds like my room!” Madigan cracked. “Where’s the hair-dryer, Anna?!”


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