Johnny Sexton On How He Lost His Voice At The World Rugby Awards
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Ireland and Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton was last week named World Rugby Player of the Year 2018 after a truly remarkable season with both club and country.
The talented playmaker played a pivotal role for Ireland and Leinster as they secured an historic clean sweep, winning a Six Nations Grand Slam, the Guinness PRO14 and the Champions Cup. He also helped Ireland to a series victory over the Wallabies in Australia, as well as a win over world champions the All Blacks in Dublin.
But Sexton was unable to properly accept his award on the night – after he ended up losing his voice. Speaking on the BBC 5 Live Rugby Union Weekley podcast, Sexton says he picked up a chest infection after that famous win at the Aviva.
“I was sick after the New Zealand game; I had a bit of a chest infection or whatever,” Sexton explained
“I went down to do a bit of media before it and voice was fine but then we went into that drinks reception and there was a lot of people in a confined space where everyone was speaking over each other.”
“The longer that drinks reception went on, the more and more hoarse I was getting. During the dinner it was quite loud as well.”
“About two hours before the award was due to be announced, my voice went totally. I was trying everything possible to get it back: I was drinking hot whiskey, lemon and boiling water, salt water, anti-inflammatories – nothing was working. I literally could not get it back.”
“It was more the fear of if I won because we didn’t have a clue – none of the guys nominated had no idea if we’d won. I was just sitting there stressing that if I had to go up on stage that I’m not going to be able to say a word.”
“Five minutes before the award, it still wasn’t back so I just jotted down a few words and asked Rory to come up and say them for me. He thought I was taking the piss out of him. I wasn’t, unfortunately, and it was quite embarrassing.”
Sexton even jokingly told Beauden Barrett he hoped he would win because he was unable to speak!
“I whispered to Beauden Barrett about 10 minutes before [they named the winner], ‘I hope you win because I can’t speak.’” Sexton added.
“That’s why I shook his hand as I was walking up to the stage, I’d been talking to him briefly. He couldn’t hear a word I’d been saying but we caught up after the game in the Aviva.”