JOE meets Tommy Bowe
On the wing or in the centre Tommy Bowe is one of Ireland’s most accomplished rugby players, he speaks to JOE about returning to Ulster, New Zealand and shoes.
JOE: So Tommy you’re back at Ulster how are you feeling about it?
Tommy Bowe: Yeah, great to be back! I’m about two weeks back into training now and still working my way back to fitness after the surgery and after coming back from Wales, but things are going well. It feels like a new beginning for me. But I’m really enjoying it.
JOE: And it won’t be too long until you’re playing your old team mates when you play the Ospreys in your second league match of the season...
TB: No, no – the second game of the season against the Ospreys and in Swansea as well! I’m sure there’ll be a few cheap shots going in at various stages, but I’m still great mates with a lot of the boys over there so it’ll be great to catch up with them again.
JOE: You were in hospital having a surgical removal of the haematoma, it must have been disappointing watching the Irish team on tour against New Zealand unable to make a difference?
TB: Em, yeah it was.
It was frustrating for me in a sense but then again the surgery had to be done and it was kind of funny because the Ospreys went on to win the league and then to miss out on the Irish tour was such a disappointment.
The tour itself was so up and down, I think in the second test you just have to feel for the lads – they threw everything on the line and it just shows what a class outfit New Zealand are to have the odds stacked against them, to be down to fourteen men and still to be able to grind out a win.
You could see the hurt on the guys faces.
The following week New Zealand were just so clinical and you could see on the Irish guys faces that they were tired after the 52 weeks of the season, it’s a long old season and I think it’s a disappointing result for Irish rugby but that will be looked at now and, you know, it’s going to have to be worked on but the boys will be on holidays now and be able to come back refreshed for the new season...
JOE: Where did you watch the matches?
TB: I watched the first two on holidays and the third one back at home.
JOE: What was the more depressing one to watch - the second one because you could be out on the pitch making a difference and getting Ireland across the line or the third one where you just realise that New Zealand are so far ahead of everyone in world rugby?
TB: I think the third one was just difficult to watch, I mean you had to feel for the guys because they were out on the field giving it their all and it just wasn’t good enough on the day. New Zealand just looked a class above.
I think that’s a huge kick up the arse for us – the provincial sides are at the top of Europe in our game but we need to kick on to be able to take on the top sides in the world in New Zealand on the international front...
JOE: Looking to the season ahead, you’re coming back to Ulster with them having had their best season since 1999 against all expectations, does that add pressure on you?
TB: I think Ulster had a fantastic season last year – I thought the Heineken Cup was incredible, but as for their league season I’d say they’re not happy with, so it was a very up and down season for them. There were huge highs of getting to the final and then obviously the disappointment of coming up against a Leinster side that looked like the best sporting team around, considering the feats they’ve done over the last couple of years.
From the league point of view I’d say they’re disappointed with a few results, so it’s a great time for me to be coming back. The team is on a high, the supporters are really getting behind the team, they’ve plans for a revamp of the stadium, so you know, hopefully it’s a good time for me to be coming back.
JOE: You’re here today supporting these new sports scholarships being offered by Hibernia College. I was speaking to Mike Ross a few weeks back about how players in the Irish rugby side are quite high achievers and you have started your own brand of shoe ware quite recently too...
TB: Yeah I’m involved with a shoe brand called Lloyd and Pryce and the shoes are going really well at the moment, they’re a Monaghan-based company. I’ve tried to put whatever input I can into it, but it’s great to see the Irish public have really liked it and really enjoyed it and sales are going really well.
So we’re coming into the autumn/winter collection [laughs] which is really weird to be saying! But it’s exciting yeah!
JOE: Was it your idea or did they approach you?
TB: No, no they’re a kind of family company that have been dealing in shoes for generations. They asked me to come on board with them and I thought it was something very different and a good fit...
JOE: No pun intended...
TB: [Laughs] Yeah but you know sometimes sport consumes your life and you need something different and off-the-wall like that and it takes your mind off in different ways and I think that’s great.
JOE: You’re here promoting these scholarships that a lot of young, elite athletes will be availing of, do you have many fond memories of Jordanstown on or off the field that you’d like to share?
TB: I think my studying was a bit of a laugh in general! But I came out with a degree so I’m very happy with that!
Hopefully I will be able to get involved with Hibernia College as well – I’m hoping to do a Diploma in Management with them on the online course so I think the way they work it online and you can do it from home suits people who are busy because who knows where I’ll be at different stages in different weeks so it ties in nicely, hopefully it will go well!
JOE: Thanks Tommy!
TB: See you later.
Tommy was attending the launch of Hibernia College’s new suite of undergraduate programmes and sports scholarships. The new programmes will allow participants to study for University of London undergraduate degrees through Hibernia College’s blend of online learning and regional onsite delivery.
You can read more about the courses on offer here.