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11th Dec 2018

Munster’s infamous wedding-themed Christmas party has surely never been topped

Patrick McCarry

Munster Christmas party

“We got him a pair of chap-less leather pants, for some reason.”

John Hayes must have looked some sight – a cross between his usual, fearsome self and an extra from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Rugby teams often go all out for two big occasions during the year – a pre-season bash and a Christmas party. A decade ago, Munster pushed the boat out for a whopper, wedding-themed party that included the likes of Paul O’Connell, Alan Quinlan, Keith Earls, Frankie Sheehan, Hayes and more.

Former Munster and Ireland centre Barry Murphy recounted some details from that epic session during Baz & Andrew’s House of Rugby [from 38:00 below] and it sounded like quite the bash.

“Munster were quite good at having Christmas parties, back in the day,” said Murphy. “It was probably the only thing I was worthy of taking the responsibility for – organising the Christmas party.”

The organising committee was given a budget of €1,000 towards the party and Kilkenny was selected as the venue. It was decided to hold a mock wedding, between Aussies Jim Williams and Tony McGahan.

“The cheapest wedding dress we could find was 100 quid but it was a size 26, so we decided that Jim would be the bride!” In conversation with co-host Andrew Trimble, Murphy continued:

BARRY: “Like most Irish weddings, we wanted it to be quite typical so we needed bridesmaids and groomsmen and a priest, and altar boys and clergy, and do you remember like you’d go to mass and there was always a guy that kind of works in the church who’s like not a priest, he’s kind of like a…”

ANDREW: “Pall bearer?”

BARRY: “No, no, no. He’s like a guy that kind of wanders around on the counter, or altar, whatever.”

ANDREW: “The counter!”

BARRY: “That thing. You know the guy that’s always in the church. He’s not a priest, but there’s always one there.”

ANDREW: “Like a caretaker?”

BARRY: “Yeah, yeah. And they’re always big so we wanted even one of them… so we had John Hayes as the church caretaker and we got him a pair of chap-less leather pants, for some reason.”

Hooker Frankie Sheehan was the bishop, with Kieran Lewis and Ciaran O’Boyle as two altar boys and a bridesmaids pairing of Paul O’Connell and Alan Quinlan. “We got them lipstick and wigs, and stuff, and Keith Earls and Mossy Lawlor were the two groomsmen and we had them dressed as bogans, you know those sort of rough Aussies. It was great.”

Murphy avoided any roles and was free to have a couple of drinks and enjoy the wedding festivities.

“It was just a proper wedding,” Murphy remarked. “I’m starting to realise that there is no punchline here. It was just a lovely wedding. It was gorgeous and Jimmy looked absolutely gorgeous. 6-foot-5 Aussie man in a wedding dress and we couldn’t even zip it up, because his back was so big. We just got him an extra big veil!”