Triple Crown winner moved seamlessly from rugby to finance

Mullin started in finance long before he hung up his rugby boots after 55 Ireland caps

Brendan Mullin breaks through a tackle to score a try during the Five Nations international between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff in March 1995. Photograph: Clive Mason/Allsport

Brendan Mullin breaks through a tackle to score a try during the Five Nations international between Wales and Ireland in Cardiff in March 1995. Photograph: Clive Mason/Allsport

 

Brendan Mullin began to work in the world of finance long before he hung up his rugby boots after 55 Ireland caps between 1984 and 1995.

A member of the 1985 Irish Triple Crown-winning team and a former Lions player, he worked in stockbroker Davy’s private-clients division for seven years before being hired in 1996 by rival Goodbody Stockbrokers to take up a new position in its corporate development business.

In 1999, Mullin co-founded an investment business for high-net-worth individuals, called Powerscourt Capital Partners. By the time the firm was sold on five years later to financier Derek Quinlan’s Quinlan Private, for a reported figure of close to €5 million, it had about €30 million of assets under management, including stakes in telecoms company Opennet and internet security specialist Vordel.

Mullin joined Quinlan Private as part of the deal, but set out again on his own in 2007 with a plan to raise €200 million for a public- and private-equity firm, Quantum Investment Capital, with bowling alleys-to-cinemas tycoon brothers Colum and Ciaran Butler. The Butlers would leave the venture within months, before Mullin rolled it into stockbroker NCB’s private-wealth business in 2008. He received an equity stake in NCB as a result,

Quantum’s most notable venture was raising money for Airone, a planned Caribbean low-fares airline that never got off the ground.

Mullin was hired in January 2010 by Bank of Ireland as a managing director of private banking, tasked, as a staff email said at the time, with working to “design and deliver” the bank’s future high-net-worth customer proposition. He left the bank in July 2013.

More recently, Mullin has been involved in property developments in Dublin 4 and was a director for three years, until August 2021, of Dublin-based Trasna Solutions Telecoms Ltd, formerly Workz Group Telecoms Ltd, a solutions provider in the world of the internet of things, where physical devices are connected to the internet.

Former Ireland rugby international Brendan Mullin leaving Dublin District Court on Tuesday after he was charged with theft, deception and false accounting. Photograph: Collins Courts
Former Ireland rugby international Brendan Mullin leaving Dublin District Court on Tuesday after he was charged with theft, deception and false accounting. Photograph: Collins Courts

Exceptional player

During his rugby career, he was one of the exceptional players of his generation, playing at outside centre. A former sprint champion , Mullin, who attended school at Blackrock College and university at Trinity College, also went on to win an Oxford “Blue”.

While playing for Blackrock and the Irish Schools in rugby, he was twice the senior boys 110m hurdle champion in 1980-1981. With that foundation of outstanding running ability he made his senior debut for Ireland just three years later in 1984 against Australia in Lansdowne Road.

That marked the beginning of a long career, which lasted for more than 10 years and earned Mullin 55 Irish caps and 17 international tries.

His try haul was a record-scoring number for an Irish player and lasted until another Blackrock centre, Brian O’Driscoll, arrived on the international scene. In a mark of the professional era and perhaps, style of rugby played, O’Driscoll took the record in just 35 games.

Mullin first surpassed George Stephenson’s record of 14 tries in 1991 and then added another couple when he came out of a two-year retirement in 1995.

He belonged rigidly to the amateur era and in an interview from 2003 remembered playing on a Saturday at College Park in a non-competitive match with Trinity and the following Saturday running out in Parc de Princes to face France in the Five Nations Championship.

Lions

Mullin was also selected to represent the British and Irish Lions, where he started in two matches in their 1989 tour to Australia, playing alongside the likes of Will Carling, Gavin Hastings, Jeremy Guscott and Rob Andrew under Scottish captain Finlay Calder.

The team became the only Lions team to come from 1-0 down to win a series, winning the second test in Brisbane 19-12 and the third test in Sydney 19-18.

He played in three World Cups with Ireland. The first was the first World Cup of the modern era staged in Australia and New Zealand in 1987. He also played in 1991, when matches were held across the five home unions and finally, after coming out of retirement, he was picked for the South African World Cup in 1995.

Kings Park in Durban, where France beat Ireland 36-12 in the quarter-finals, marked the end of the road for his international career.

But when his playing career was over, Mullin kept in touch with rugby and acted as chairman of London Irish Holdings during the 2000s. For a short time he was also an Irish Times columnist.