Donncha O’Callaghan has graced our TV screens quite frequently in recent times as he and comedian Mario Rosenstock present Clubhouse, billed as a rugby chat and entertainment show, at 10pm Thursday nights on TV3.
The former Munster Rugby second row and current Worcester Warriors player is enjoying the new experience as he delves into various areas of the media before his imminent retirement from professional rugby.
Speaking to Sports News Ireland, the thirty-eight year old Corkman admitted to enjoying his current television work, and he hopes to do some more:
“I must say I’m loving it, I really am loving it. There are a few things I tried; I just wanted to dip my toe and see different forms of media that I like, to decide what I want to do, or which I want to look into after rugby, and I must say, I’ve loved it.”
O’Callaghan believes his co-host Mario Rosenstock, whom he describes as “a rugby nut”, is ideally suited to a rugby entertainment show such as Clubhouse. He praises the impressionist for the help and advice he has afforded a television novice:
“Mario has been incredible. He’s like a school boy when he sees some of these guests coming on and then he chats to the lads who are in awe of actually spending a bit of time with him. It’s like both getting to meet their heroes. I’ve found him incredibly generous and incredibly helpful.”
O’Callaghan believes Rosenstock’s knowledge of the sport means he asks guests “the questions the majority of people are thinking of at home” while Donncha himself feels that as someone involved in the sport “you tend to talk about the generic stuff that people don’t really understand.”
Aside from his recent TV3 work, the player who made an incredible 268 appearances for his native Munster, has done some pitch-side work with BT Sport. Stating that the work can be challenging and frustrating at times, O’Callaghan readily admits:
“There’s some of it I like and some of it I don’t, to be honest with you. It can be very difficult because you plan and you prepare and get ready for a game and then it’s just chaos. Something happens and the player you put an awful lot of research into goes off and you have a page (of research) done on him.”
He mentions former Ireland manager Donal Lenihan as an example to follow when assessing a player’s performance. Donncha O’Callaghan says he personally doesn’t have any issue with criticising a player, not even one he once played with:
“No, not at all, I think it’s the manner in which you do it, and the one that comes to mind is Donal Linehan – he’s never had a problem in saying something tough about you but it’s the way he puts it across. He shows why a player is having a bad game. What annoys me is that people just throw out a generic line without really researching it.”
When suggested to the two-time British and Irish Lion that he might follow the example of his former Munster teammate, Tomás O’Leary, and show the nation his dancing skills on Dancing with the Stars, O’Callaghan quickly retorts:
“I would in my a***. Myself and my wife went for one dance lesson before our wedding and the lady gave us back the €60 afterwards. She said to me about three time, I can’t believe you’re a professional athlete the way you move.”
When pressed again if he might even consider it, the twice-capped Barbarians player stressed:
“No, that’s not for me. I think all the rugby lads have learned, if Tomás can’t do it, it can’t be done.”
From speaking to Donncha, it becomes clear his wife and family are his priority. Married to Jennifer Harte since December 2009, the couple have very young children. The UNICEF Ambassador concedes that he will cut back on his workload once his playing career with Worcester ends:
“I going to do an awful lot less, priority 100% for me is my family, being there for my kids. I would much prefer be known as a great Dad than an average enough rugby player.”
O’Callaghan, however, was always much more than the “average enough rugby player” he describes himself. He epitomised professionalism and commitment, never shirking a challenge, or failing to give his all, irrespective of the jersey he wore.
He could, by his own admission, play for another couple of years if he really wanted to, adding:
“Body wise I feel super. I promise you I could play on for another three or four years, I really could. Priority for me is being around my family. I love rugby but I love them more.”
The former Munster, Ireland, Lions and Barbarians player has shown another side to his skill set with his media work, be it on TV3, or writing his column for The Times newspaper. Listening to him though, tells you, the skill he wants to be best at is being a good father.
Donncha O’Callaghan – a man who certainly has his priorities straight.