John Hayes on the brilliant comeback from Paul O’Connell when speaking to Prince William

O'Connell Prince William

“I nearly fell off my seat laughing.”

This is a hilarious response from Paul O’Connell when speaking to Prince William.

O’Connell will go down as one of the greats of Irish rugby.

The Limerick man was known for his incredible leadership abilities. But he also backed that up with performances on the pitch.

Throughout an excellent career, O’Connell played in three World Cups and three British and Irish Lions tours. He also won two Heineken Cups, four Celtic League titles, four Triple Crowns, three Six Nations championships and one Grand Slam.

His premature retirement after the 2015 World Cup was a shame. O’Connell was set to play for two seasons with Toulon, but for the serious hamstring injury he suffered which called an end to his glittered career.

The former second-row was also known for his quick wit and humour. He was someone who had no problem in taking part in the jibing and slagging that takes place in the modern-day dressing room.

A brilliant example of this was on the 2005 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.

Paul O’Connell and Prince William

As John Hayes recalls in his autobiography, The Bull: My Story, Paul O’Connell had a cheeky response to Prince William when the duo were speaking about the Duke of Cambridge potentially attending a Munster game in Thomond Park.

“At one stage of the tour Prince William turned up to meet him (Clive Woodward) at training one day,” Hayes said in his autobiography.

“William is a big rugby fan and he came into our dressing room after one of the games and went round shaking our hands.

“I was sitting next to O’Connell. William told him he’d heard of Munster rugby and the legendary Thomond Park.

“So Paulie said to him he should come over for a game sometime. William said he’d love to but it wouldn’t be easy; a visit like that to Ireland would take a bit of organising.

“And quick as a flash O’Connell fires back, ‘Some of your ancestors hadn’t much problem coming over to Ireland.’

“He (Paul O’Connell) kinda half said it under his breath so I wasn’t sure if Prince William had heard it or not. But I had and I nearly fell off my seat laughing.”


Originally published on September 13, 2020.

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Author: Sean McMahon

Sean is Deputy Editor and head rugby writer. You can contact him by email or on Twitter