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19th Nov 2023

Keith Earls dishes up great back-story to that World Cup bike snap

Patrick McCarry


“It was like being with my five-year-old daughter!”

Keith Earls made his first big media appearance, on Friday, after he hung up his boots and retired as a Munster and Ireland player.

The Limerick native, who had his rugby swan song at the World Cup, was one of the main guests on The Late Late Show, and he spoke of how he hope Ireland inspired a few people on the road to, and during, the tournament.

Ireland went into their World Cup quarter final against New Zealand off the back of 18 straight Test match victories, which included a series win over the All Blacks (in 2022) and the 2023 Six Nations Grand Slam. Ultimately, though, Ireland fell to a 28-24 loss and missed out on progressing further than any side from these shores has ever managed.

“We had this motto for three years,” Earls explained to host Patrick Kielty, “it was to inspire a nation by bringing a cup home to get an open top bus down O’Connell Street in Dublin.”

“Ultimately,” he added, “you ask any of the lads, and it’s harsh, but we failed, and [we] understand that even though we failed, we did inspire the nation.

“We wanted to go out and win it, it wasn’t a cockiness from us, but as Irish teams in the past, we would have been scared to kind of say it, whereas we truly, truly believed it this time. We had the right ingredients, but that’s sport, if you have a small amount of poor discipline against a team like New Zealand then they’ll punish you.”

Earls, who retired as Ireland’s second highest try-scorer of all time, also spoke of a brilliant, viral snap from that World Cup, of him riding on the back of a bike peddled by Crocs-wearing Peter O’Mahony, in Tours.

Keith Earls

Keith Earls on that brilliant bike picture

During his Late Late Show appearance, Keith Earls explained that the snap of him cadging a lift off Peter O’Mahony was a regular occurrence when the squad were at their World Cup HQ in Tours, France.

“I don’t know if we have enough time to explain it but, basically, where we were staying, in Tours, we had access to bikes – myself, Peter O’Mahony and Dave Kilcoyne.

“We had Wednesday and Thursday afternoon off and the three of us would go down and try and solve the world’s problems. It was basically [us] being a therapist for Dave Kilcoyne. We were down the town one day and Finlay Bealham texted saying he was off getting his cornrows done for the game.

“We met him and he was like, ‘I’ve never told anyone this but I can’t cycle’, and he was like, ‘No, I’m just a really nervous cycler’. I said get on we’re going to a restaurant.

“I was on the bike, had to jump off for my own safety. It was like being with my five-year-old daughter! He was screeching at parked cars, wobbling all over the place. So I was like, ‘I’ll jump on with Peter O’Mahony and be a lot safer’, and I was doing the Sat Nav (directions).

“That’s how we knew there was Irish in town because the photo went viral. But you can hear Finlay shouting in the background, ‘Help please, why are there cars?’

Keith Earls explained he was “an emotional wreck” after the quarter final defeat to New Zealand, as Ireland coach paid tribute to him, outgoing captain Johnny Sexton and team manager Mick Kearney in the post-match dressing room, at Stade de France.

“It was just gone in the space of 80 minutes. It was quite emotional… there were a wee bit of tears from some macho men.”


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