Video - Paul O'Connell's tale of smoking, sore gums and break up

RugbyBy Sunday World
O'Connell had a Lions tour to forget in 2005
O'Connell had a Lions tour to forget in 2005

Irish rugby legend Paul O’Connell has spoken of highly eventful 2005 Lions tour, that saw him break up with his girlfriend Emily while also being left with damaged gums for the rest of his life as he tried to cover up his smoking habit.

O’Connell was appearing on BBC radio as he ran through a tale of woe that coincided with a 3-0 loss to a rampant New Zealand side, with the after effect from his lonely existence in the team hotel still affecting him to this day.

“If I was ever out on the town when I was young, all my friends smoked and I used to have a smoke,” said O’Connell.

“I looked absolutely ridiculous with a cigarette in my hands, but on that tour we were rooming on our own and I had a balcony looking out over the harbor.

“I used to have the odd cigarette and I was worried the when I went downstairs that I might smell of cigarettes so I started brushing my teeth. If I could get anything out of the tour I might have white teeth by the end of it, but I brushed by gums away a little too much.

“Then when I went home, whenever I ate ice cream, my gums were in agony. I went to the dentist and he told me I was stuck with crappy gums now for the rest of my life. That’s the legacy of 2005!”

He also revealed the talk of how he broke up with his wife to be Emily in what he described as a “disastrous” tour:

O’Connell also gave his views on who should captain the Lions tour next year, when they will again tour New Zealand.