Umaga reignites O’Driscoll feud

Tana Umaga has reignited his feud with Brian O’Driscoll by branding the Ireland skipper a “sook” for his reaction to the infamous spear tackle that ended his Lions tour two years ago.

O’Driscoll required shoulder surgery following the challenge by Umaga and Keven Mealamu just moments into the opening Test against the All Blacks in 2005.

To Umaga’s amazement, a furious row erupted centring around the New Zealand captain’s refusal to apologise for an incident that incensed the Lions camp.

In his autobiography, serialised in The New Zealand Herald, Umaga reveals he was left stunned by the “sustained personal attack” that followed.

The 34-year-old, now a coach at French club Toulon, describes O’Driscoll as a “sook”, a word used to describe a “timid, cowardly person or cry-baby” Down Under.

“The sustained personal attack they (the Lions) launched against me was hard to believe and even harder to stomach,” said Umaga.

“You don’t want to take it personally but it’s almost impossible not to when another player, a guy you had some respect for, attacks your character in the most direct and damning terms.

“My first thought was ‘jeez, don’t be a sook; there’s no use crying about it, man, it’s over’.

“At first, the kerfuffle didn’t really bother me. It was a case of ‘oh well that’s the way it is’.

“But it just snowballed and O’Driscoll kept going on about the fact that I hadn’t rung him to say sorry.

“I finally obtained his number and got hold of him but it wasn’t a warm exchange.

“He was still angry that I hadn’t gone over to see how he was and once he’d got that off his chest, he accused me of being involved in a lot of off-the-ball incidents.

“When he started talking about off-the-ball stuff and me not being a gentleman I thought ‘oh, you’re reaching now’.

“I never went out to commit foul play: I didn’t punch guys on the ground or stomp on them. So I said, ‘Oh well, mate, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

“I’m sorry for what happened to you but there was no intent in it; it was one of those unfortunate things that happen in rugby.”

“He said, ‘Yeah, but you could’ve helped it’.

“Okay, mate,” I said, “‘all the best’ And that was where we left it.”

The book reveals Paul O’Connell was the victim of some on-field sledging from Umaga but the Ireland lock, who is preparing for Sunday’s World Cup clash with Argentina, shrugged off the insults.

“I haven’t had a chance to read the book. It doesn’t really bother me, Umaga is selling his book,” O’Connell said.

“It’s not a worry for me at the moment. I’m not concentrating on Tana Umaga’s book now. It’s not a problem for me, I have enough problems as it is.”

Umaga also describes England second row Danny Grewcock as a “meathead” and said the All Blacks wanted to prove to Lions coach Sir Clive Woodward that he “wasn’t as good as he thought he was”.


365 Digital

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