‘What the actual fock? I’m talking about the Six Nations and none of you are listening’

Ross O’Carroll Kelly: It’s the night before Sixmas – and Ross is feeling ignored

It's the night before Sixmas and I'm sitting in The Bridge 1859, sharing with the goys the gift of my pre-tournament analysis. I'm telling them that I think Ireland are now the best passers of the ball in world rugby – and I'm including the All Blacks in that – but the most random thing is happening as in, they're not hanging off my every word like they usually are?

I’m there, “In terms of our front-row personnel, I don’t think we’ve ever been better off for, like, sheer strength and set-piece reliability”, but they’re literally not listening to me. Oisinn is texting someone, Fionn is staring at the muted TV and Christian is showing JP a video on his phone of a chimpanzee and a rooster riding around on a quad bike.

I'm there, "Goys, what the fock – as in, what the actual fock? I'm talking about the Six Nations here and none of you are even listening."

Fionn goes, “We are listening, Ross.”


And I’m like, “Okay, who did I say Finn Russell reminded me of – in terms of pure talent, vision and willingness to take risks?”

Fionn's there, "Er, you?"

And I’m like, “That was a guess – a lucky guess, but a guess all the same.”

Oisinn goes, “Sorry, Dude, I’m just texting a neighbour of mine, because I can’t remember if it’s the recycling bin or the general refuse bin that’s being collected next week,” and JP – this is, like, word for word – goes, “Ross, you’ve got to see this – the chimpanzee and the rooster are, like, bezzy mates.”

I’m there, “Seriously, I stayed up late the last three nights prepping for this – because my pre-tournament analysis used to be a major port of Sixmas Week. But suddenly I feel like my old man – the pub bore, just shouting his opinions into the air while everyone around him just zones out.”

No one says a word to contradict me. I swear to fock, there’s just, like, silence from the goys. I stand up and I close my Rugby Tactics Book. I’m like, “That’s it – I’m out of here.”

"Ross, you don't have to leave," Oisinn goes. "Sit down and tell us how you think England will line out."

But I have my pride. Well, let's be honest, I don't have any pride, but I told them how England would line out an hour ago and this evening has turned out to be the greatest waste of breath since I dressed up as Cher for a Halloween costume porty and spent 20 drunken minutes trying to chat up my reflection in Reggie Corrigan's hallway mirror.

"Same again?" Jamie Heaslip goes as I'm heading for the door.

I’m like, “No, I’m heading off early, Big Man.”

He’s there, “Have you got your tactics book?”

And I’m like, “I don’t even know why I brought it, Dude. It’s like throwing panettone to the pigeons.”

I'm halfway across the floor when I suddenly hear a dude's voice coming from a huddle of bodies to my left, going, "Never mind the Six Nations, if it was the World Cup that was storting tomorrow, France would win it. And I'm going to tell you why."

His voice is, like, strong and confident – and his views on the beautiful game are pretty much on the money. I’m thinking, ‘Okay, I need to find out who that voice belongs to – I need it like I need my next breath’.

I crane my neck and I manage to get a bead on the dude. He's in his, like, mid-20s, with – I'm just going to come out and say the word – gorgeous blond hair and a shoulders-back, finger-guns-at-the-ready manner that reminds me of a young Ryle Nugent back in his days presenting The Grip.

He's going, "If Antoine Dupont plays to anything like his potential, you can draw a line through England and you can draw a line through Wales", and the dudes he's with are, like, hanging on his every word.

I’m thinking, ‘Enjoy it while it lasts, kid. There’ll come a day when they won’t look at you like that anymore,’ and that’s when, all of a sudden, the dude catches my eye and goes, “Ross! O’Carroll! Kelly!”

I have literally no idea who he is. Even when he walks up to me and gives me a high-five that turns very quickly into a bro hug, I just presume he’s some randomer who’s watched the compilation of my schools rugby best bits that Honor made for my 40th birthday and posted on YouTube.

“Dude, it’s Winker!” he goes. “Winker Raymond!”

I'm there, "Winker Raymond? The only Winker Raymond I know played for-"

“Mary’s,” he goes. “Back in that day. Yes, Ross, it’s me.”

I’m like, “What the fock – as in, like, literally? Dude, you used to be -“


“I was trying to think of a nicer way of putting it, but – yeah, no – the last time I saw you was when we were doing the Sportsman Dip course together in UCD and you’d a head like a focking Easter egg – hopefully no offence.”

“Hey, none taken!”

“So what happened?”

“What happened? Dr Holger Esterházy – that’s what happened.”

I’m like, “What is he – a wig-maker?” because I’m remembering the transformation that came over my old man when he put the old Kristen on his head.

He’s there, “It’s not a wig, Ross.”

And I’m like, “So what did you get – like, a transplant?”

"No," he goes, "Dr Esterházy is based in Budapest. He's invented this new serum that promotes follicle regrowth. He's had unbelievable results with men who are, well, you know -" and, as he says it, I watch his eyes stray to my own receding hairline. He's like, "Sorry, I didn't mean to -"

"Hey," I go, "ain't no thing but Anine Bing, as my daughter says."

He’s like, “All I’m saying is that it’s changed my life. My self-esteem has gone through the roof.”

I’m there, “I was listening to your analysis. Jesus, I was nearly in tears.”

“So do you want the dude’s number?”

"Dude, that's like asking me do I want Alexandra Daddario's number. Er, that's a yes, by the way?"