Donncha O’Callaghan Reveals His Lowest Point In 20 Years As A Professional Rugby Player

Down and out.

Former Munster and Ireland lock Donncha O’Callaghan has had some incredible career highs over the years. He’s lifted the Heineken Cup with Munster on two occasions (2006, 2008) and he was part of Ireland’s famous 2009 Grand Slam winning team.

But there has been plenty of lows along the way. Munster failed many times on their path to glory, as did Ireland. O’Callaghan’s worse moment came while playing for the latter in the now infamous 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Ireland arrived in France as one of the favourites to win the famous trophy. But it wasn’t to be as Eddie O’Sullivan’s men went crashing out at the group stages..

“I often think of that World Cup in France. It just felt like we didn’t even fire a shot and we were back,” O’Callaghan told Sky Sports in an exclusive interview.

“So much work went into that, physically and mentally. We were going out there to compete, and we came back holding our ass, so embarrassed.

“You don’t get any value for the amount of preparation that went into it.”

At the time it was said the players overtrained. Is this true?

“We just couldn’t stop ourselves,” O’Callaghan replies.

“And to be honest, Eddie [O’Sullivan] probably got most of the blame for it, but it wasn’t him at all. There was loads of us players who wouldn’t get off the pitch because we wanted to do more.

“One of the sessions out there, I remember in the middle of it actually feeling hungry. And you were like: ‘how long have we been training here?’

“It was 100 per cent led by us, but what happens in situations like that is every coach tries to cover their area and make sure the blame doesn’t land on them.

“Be it forwards, backs, defence, kicking. They all clamour for every second of every minute and when you have competitive players that go: ‘I want to do more’, sometimes you just need someone to go: ‘stop it’.

“I definitely think we nearly self-harmed in that.

“What kills me is that I honestly promise you, for the year coming into that World Cup, I could not have done any more.

“Physically, mentally, I couldn’t have given it any more, and you just come away with nothing.

“There’s so many troughs. There’s so many lows and very little peaks that it’s about managing those, and really enjoying those.

“I’d love to go back and slap 26-year-old me to just enjoy the highs. They’re great, love them, because they don’t come around too much.”