"It used to drive me insane" - Eddie O'Sullivan recalls the criticism aimed at John Hayes

Former Ireland head coach joined us at our Heineken Rugby Club Roadshow in Bruff

BY Raf Diallo 20:53 Wednesday 23 May 2018, 20:53 23 May 2018

John Hayes ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Irish rugby has Bruff Rugby Club to thank for producing one of our 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam winners.

John 'The Bull' Hayes was on hand there for our OTB Heineken Rugby Club at Bruff Rugby Club and following him on stage was his former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan who shared a few fond memories of the former prop.

"There were about four or five guys who were first on the team sheet," said Eddie of his Ireland team of the early to mid-2000s, before touching on the criticism that went Hayes' way that he found irritating.

"But John was always one of them [first names on the teamsheet]. That was always the first guy down because he was our tighthead and it used to bother me that he got such a kicking from certain precincts about being a tighthead, and [saying] 'he was useless' and it used to drive me insane. I got in trouble over it eventually because I went to war on that footing and it wasn't appreciated."

Eddie then recalled a conversation he had with former Ireland international prop Ray McLoughlin about the way in which Hayes was able to defy the limitations of his position to become highly effective. 

"I'd a great conversation with one of the great props of our history, Ray McLoughlin, who played for Ireland and the Lions and Ray was a loosehead actually and he was a fantastic technician," he said.

"But around the time John became a prop at the top end of the game, the scrum changed dramatically.

"There was a time when loosehead was the toughest position to play because a tighthead got away with everything. They got to bore down. When they got to drive across, they got to pin the loosehead.

"And then they decided for safety reasons, the scrum up higher, they made the tighthead bind way up over the top. And for someone to bind up over the top of a looshead, it opens up your right shoulder and chest to the looshead who can drive up. They can really take you to town. 

"Ray McLoughlin used to say to me about the kicking John was getting about his scrummaging and Ray said to me that he was amazed that someone of John's physique and size could scrummage and tighthead given the job he used to do by reaching up over the loosehead. It took an immense amount of strength and toughness to play that position because when the scrum changed, all the pressure came onto the tighthead." 

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