If you’re a fan of Munster Rugby, Irish Rugby, Donncha O Callaghan himself or any body that’s remotely interested in sport I think you’ll love this book. I am not a huge fan of autobiographies and the only biographies I’ve read previously to this are Britney Spears and JK Rowlings’. I enjoyed those because I am obviously huge fans of both people for surprisingly similar reasons. They are both women who went through hard times in their life but came out the other side with a whole lot to show for it.
Donncha is different. He is a man obviously but also he is not a celebrity in the normal use of the word. He is just a very talented sportsperson who has become very successful because of that. He’s also not as hugely rich and famous as JK and Britney have become so it was a different kind of read in that way as he’s a lot more relatable. I absolutely loved hearing his story and how he struggled to break into the forefront of professional Irish rugby. As a rugby fan, you never really think of how a player gets to where he is. At least I didn’t until now anyway. You just accept their place on the team and you don’t really question it. It was a shock to me to see how much competition there really is between players in a team environment. I am not a hugely sporty person myself, I’m more of a spectator, and have never played on any sports team so I suppose I was even more unaware than most people of how much a player has to fight to gain his starting spot and then how much they have to fight to keep it.
Donncha tells his story right from his beginning where he started out playing for Cork Con and then Munster and then eventually the Irish team and the Lions. It was not an easy road for him in any way and he struggled to break through for many years. For a man who we now see as a certainty in Munster and Irish rugby it is hard to imagine he was once looked over by management. I loved reading about his relationships with both team members and the different management he’s worked with over the years as you see all these people on the pitch and in interviews and you think you know what they would be like in ‘real life’ but some were a lot different to what I had envisioned.
Donncha is kind of portrayed as the joker of the team and I always presumed he loved that image and that was true to his personality but in this book you really see that he has struggled with that image over the years. It has held him back in many ways as management don’t take him as seriously as they could and referees immediately blacklist him before he’s done anything wrong. It was so surprising to me that this was something that bothered him so much but when I sat back and thought about it for a while I realised how annoying it must truly be to be boxed into that stereotype and therefore never considered for captaincy or his leadership qualities that he clearly does have.
This is a good autobiography and I read it quickly and found myself entertained the whole way through. You definitely have to be interested in rugby and especially the Irish rugby format to enjoy it properly but if you are then it’s definitely worth the investment. I saw a new side to Donncha after reading this book and I’ll be shouting for him a little louder at the next Munster match I attend!
- Rugby News: Munster 33 – 13 Dragons (walesonline.co.uk)
- Rugby stars line out for Bull’s book (independent.ie)