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Sean O’Brien opens up about the biggest regret of his career

Sean O'Brien

Sean O’Brien has revealed that missing out on Ireland’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Argentina in 2015 is the biggest regret of his career.

The former Ireland flanker was in fine form for his country in 2015, helping the team to a Six Nations triumph before topping their Rugby World Cup pool with a dominant 24-9 win over France.

However, O’Brien was cited for punching France’s Pascal Pape in the stomach in the early minutes of the game, resulting in him missing the match against Argentina.

O’Brien was one of several key Ireland players missing, along with Johnny Sexton and Paul O’Connell, for the quarter-final and the men in green ultimately lost 43-20 to Argentina.

‘It was hellish for me’

The former Ireland flanker was speaking on RugbyLad‘s Up and Under podcast and revealed the citing stands out as the most disappointing moment in an otherwise illustrious career.

“Getting cited after the 2015 [World Cup] French game. That’s probably the biggest disappointment of my career, that week missing that Argentina game.

“Every single bit of that citing is in the book [Fuel], word for word. I actually recorded that whole citing.

Sean O'Brien

“That’s quite an interesting part in the book actually because it goes through from the very minute I’m cited to the very end of it in a lot of detail.

“It was hellish for me but I done what I done and I suffered the consequences. But that day when the boys lost to Argentina and we were missing five probably key players.

“If we had one of us there I still think one of us would have got us over the line because we were a whisker away. We didn’t start well enough but we came back at them. It’s probably a big regret of mine, 100%, that day,” O’Brien said.


2015 represented what was probably Ireland’s best opportunity to reach the World Cup semi-finals, having won all their pool matches, but lost to an opponent they were expected to beat, not unlike the 2011 loss to Wales.

While O’Brien has enjoyed won the Heineken Cup with Leinster and the Six Nations for Ireland, the World Cup, as with many Irish players, represents a missed opportunity for the flanker.

Originally published on the 18th of February 2021.

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