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23rd Jan 2024

Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton the star turns at Irish premiere of Six Nations: Full Contact

Patrick McCarry

The Irish premiere had two very special rugby guests.

Keith Earls and Johnny Sexton helped Ireland to a rake of trophies over the course of their respective rugby careers. As their former teammates target a Six Nations Grand Slam defence, they were in Dublin for the launch of a new rugby docuseries.

Netflix held the Irish premiere of Six Nations: Full Contact at the Guinness Storehouse on Monday [January 22], following the official tournament launch at the same venue, earlier that day.

Among those in attendance were House of Rugby alums, Greg O’Shea, Lindsay Peat, Jenny Murphy, Ian Madigan and Eimear Considine, as well as a host of Ireland Women’s stars, past and present, celebrities, rugby fans, and the legends, Earls and Sexton.

Full Contact will be available to the general public from Wednesday, January 24, on Netflix, with eight episodes following the six sides that battled for the Six Nations title in 2023. The premiere was for episode one ‘Let Battle Commence’, which focuses on Scotland’s heady start to the championship, against England and Wales.

Finn Russell is the star of the first episode, with some of his comments and facial reactions drawing warm laughter from the crowd in attendance. The Scots provided much greater access than the English, somewhat understandably as Steve Borthwick was only finding his feet, in early 2023, after replacing Eddie Jones as head coach.

Following the screening, MC Christina Mahon spoke with one of the Netflix producers, and was joined on-stage by Johnny Sexton and Keith Earls. Sexton said he had seen all his clips that will be sprinkled across the various episodes and spoke of how the camera crew were never too intrusive. He stressed that Ireland were welcoming to the Netflix crews but did not allow them into any strategy or game-tactic meetings.

Earls was in rare form, joking about how he was gagging for some rugby with Munster when this season’s Champions Cup returned. The retired winger had the best joke of the night, too. Asked if Johnny Sexton is much different from the guy we often saw coaxing and chiding teammates, opponents and officials, Earls dead-panned:

“Well, I suppose he’s seen as a cranky f***er… and rightly so!”

Earls went on to say that Sexton was one of his great friends on the team, and a much more relaxed figure the further you can get him away from a rugby pitch. The Earls and Sexton clanns often holiday together, and he stressed that ‘Johnny is a great laugh. He’s got a great sense of humour.”

Full Contact

Irish rugby stars (Johnny Sexton & Keith Earls , above), fellow internationals and personalities pictured at the Irish premier of Netflix’s newest docuseries, Six Nations: Full Contact, hosted at the Guinness Storehouse. (Credit ©INPHO/Ben Brady)

Full Contact

Six Nations: Full Contact

There is a wide net cast in Six Nations: Full Contact but the Irish team do get a decent look-in during the third and eighth episodes.

One of the episodes spends a good bit of time with Leinster and Ireland prop, Andrew Porter. The tighthead speaks very openly about losing his mother to cancer when he was still young [he was only starting secondary school] and dealing with mental health issues.

“I think a lot of people will be surprised to hear Andrew’s story, and what he has gone through,” said Johnny Sexton, at the launch. “We all know his story so well, at Leinster and Ireland, and that’s what makes us love the guy, and pull for him, so much.”

Keith Earls joked that he and Sexton had retired at the wrong time, just as behind-the-scenes documentaries are helping to spread the global appeal of certain sports, like rugby and Formula 1.

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