Paul O’Connell: Lions delayed training sessions to watch The Inbetweeners in 2009

“The coaches were more into it than the players!”

Paul O’Connell has revealed that the British and Irish Lions delayed training session in 2009 in order to watch episodes of The Inbetweeners.

The former Ireland captain believes watching episodes of the hit Channel 4 sitcom helped the team to bond, something which he feels was missing from the 2005 Lions tour to New Zealand.

O’Connell was speaking on the Vodafone Lions Live vlogcast and explained that something as simple as watching TV together can help teams perform to the best of their ability.

Paul O’Connell on The Inbetweeners.

“One of the highlights of the 2009 tour for me was The Inbetweeners had just come out,” O’Connell started.

“We were delaying training and stuff to watch episodes of The Inbetweeners – the coaches were more into it than the players!

“In fairness to Ian McGeechan and Gats, that’s what they do well. I don’t think there’s a team you need to be more prepared for than South Africa in terms of tactically what you’re going to do.

“You need a real plan of how you’re going to beat them on the pitch, but unless there’s a bit of glue holding the players together as well it’s not going to count for a whole lot.”

‘We didn’t learn a lot but we had a great few days.’

While the Lions failed to win the series against South Africa that year, losing 2-1, they were far more competitive than they were in the previous tour to New Zealand.

The Lions were easily beaten in all three tests against the All Blacks in 2005, and O’Connell believes a lack of bonding among the team was partly responsible for that.

“In 2005, we went very technical and tactical, probably didn’t invest in becoming friends and building relationships and having a bit of craic. Those two or three days of watching The Inbetweeners in 2009 were great for us,” O’Connell said.

“Those are important things. You laugh and you joke – it’s probably not very cultural, The Inbetweeners, we didn’t learn a lot about South Africa watching it – but, Jeez, we had a great few days.”

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