Paul O’Connell Recalls 24 Hour Drinking Binge Following RWC 2011 Loss


Ireland’s Rugby World Cup 2011 quarter final loss to Wales hit Paul O’Connell hard.

The former Ireland and Munster lock was devastated when Ireland were once again knocked out at the quarter final stages in a Rugby World Cup, despite a fantastic performance in the group stages, including a famous win over Australia.

Several hours after the loss O’Connell lay in bed at the team’s Wellington hotel, unable to sleep. He was left with two options- lay in bed or get up and try and walk it off. He decided to go for the later, but that walk lead him to a nearby pub.

What ensued was a 24-hour binge.

I got dressed, pulled my hood up and went walking. I texted Rog and asked where he was.

2.40 am: Text from Rog: ‘We’re at Cully’s bar. Come on down.’

2.50 am: The Four Kings, on the Corner of Taranaki and Dixon Street. Christian Cullen’s place was empty apart from a few rugby supporters, Rog, Johnny Sexton, Sean Cronin, Who was providing the entertainment, and a few more of the lads. I hadn’t even been thinking about having a drink, but someone ordered me a beer.

Three hours later, O’Connell decided to head back to the hotel only to bump into a Drogheda man dressed as a leprechaun and Fergus McFadden.

5.30 am: On my way back to the hotel I met a man from Drogheda dressed as a leprechaun. Then I ran into Fergus McFadden, so we had a couple more in the bar — me, Fergus and the leprechaun. Before we knew it, it was nine o’clock.

9.30 am: The D4 bar, 143 Featherston Street. We ordered the $20 Big Brekkie — bacon, sausages, eggs, tomato, mushrooms and hash browns on toast, which read better than it tasted. Sometimes the leprechaun was full of chat, but other times he fell quiet and me and Fergus gave out to him for not contributing more to the conversation. I was drinking some kind of sparkling wine because I couldn’t stomach anything else.

10.30 am: The leprechaun ordered whiskeys all round.

A few more hours pass and O’Connell ends up meeting his parents, before bumping into a few of the Munster lads.

1 pm: A few beers with Mam and Dad back at the hotel.

2.30 pm: I bumped into John Eales, one of the great second-rows, in the hotel lobby. We’d never met and we spoke for a few minutes about this and that, before I headed back to the D4 for a few more drinks.

5 pm: (approximately): Some other place.

8.30 pm: The Establishment bar, on the corner of Courtenay Place and Blair Street: me and Fergus again.

11 pm: Subway restaurant, 23 Courtenay Place: One Chicken Temptation.

11.20 pm: I was on my way back to the hotel when I bumped into some of the staff from 02, the team sponsor. So we had a drink.

12.15 am: Monday: I was on my way back to the hotel when I bumped into Keith Earls, Damien Varley and Donnacha Ryan. I had a few more drinks with them, and then I felt hungry again.

2.15 am: McDonald’s, 200 Courtenay Place: one Big Mac meal. Me: ‘I’m definitely going back now.’ Earlsy: ‘I’ll go with you.’

Thankfully Earls was there to put the foot down, and eventually got O’Connell to call it a night.

2.40 am: We came upon Electric Avenue, 132 Courtenay Place. Me: Earlsy, look at this place! It’s eighties music night!’ Earlsy: ‘We’re going home.’ Me: Ah come on! You know how much I love Eighties music!’ Earlsy: ‘We’re going home, Paulie.’ Me: Ah go on! We’ll just go in for one and listen to the music.’ Earlsy: ‘No. We’ve enough for one night.’

3.15 am: I set the alarm on my phone for nine.

The next morning O’Connell came to the realisation of what he had just done and even earned himself a nickname on the team bus.

9 am: After the alarm rang, it took me a few seconds to figure out where I was. Then came the realization that I had spent more than twenty-four hours escaping our defeat, not dealing with it. We were due on the bus at ten. I mustn’t have looked too good when I boarded it. I got a new nickname that day: The Corpse. []

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