This week we had the chance to interview Irish Rugby legend, Geordan Murphy. With an incredible sporting career spanning 16 years, we discussed his career advice, style on and off the pitch and his personal sustainable initiatives. With the 2022 Six Nations currently in play, we also received his predictions for the tournament!
Hi Geordan, great to chat to you! Can you introduce yourself and what you do?
My name is Geordan Murphy, I am a former Rugby player, coach and director of rugby at Leicester Tigers. I also represented Ireland 72 times. I won 8 premiership trophies, 2 European cups and 3 domestic cups in the 16 years I played. I’m actually the most decorated premiership player of all time! I won 1 Anglo and Welsh cup as a coach, but I also lost in about 6/7 finals.
So, I have an appreciation of winning and losing and what it is like to be in a successful organisation and a good culture. I was lucky to play in some good teams. Happy to be out of it now though, my body is happier!
What kind of role did clothes or style play in your career?
My friends and colleagues might probably disagree with me but I think style and clothing is hugely important. I’ve always been interested in fashion. I’ve probably always felt a little embarrassed to try and pull new styles off. Even to the extent that I quite like hats and they’re quite important for people who are balding like I am! I love a trilby, love a flat cap but its about confidence. Fashion is hugely important, its great for people to feel good about themselves.
Particularly in a sporting environment, I spend a lot of my time in shorts, t-shirt and tracksuits but it was always very important for me when I was going to a meeting or match to put my best foot forward to dress up and look smart. I do love a smart shoe, I love wearing a suit, a blazer and smart shirts are obviously massively important. There’s the old adage if you look good, you play good and I certainly believe that.
What do you think about sustainability, is there things you are doing in your daily life or any thoughts on it?
Yeah, sustainability is really interesting, I think myself, my friends and a lot of people my age for the last few years didn’t really think about it to be quite honest. I think it’s been publicised greatly in the last few years and I think it’s amazing. I’ve got young kids now and I do worry about the world we’re going to pass on. It made me think ‘wow my kids are going to be in their twenty’s and its going to really affect them.’ So I started looking at things I could do. I’m actually trying to build a house at the minute so I’m trying to do as much as I can in around being carbon neutral, now I don’t know how possible it is but it’s about shifting the dial in the right direction. Asking the questions around ground source, air source, solar energy, even looking at potentially harnessing wind power. One of my friends has a company called Zellar, which is solely dedicated to that so the conversations with him have been around ‘how do we start?’.
I’ve done little things. I try and eat vegetarian once or twice a week and cut down on the amount of meat I eat. I love my meat and I’m not campaigning to go vegetarian or vegan but I think if I can make small shifts then its going to help. I guess fashion and what we wear is another area we can control and we can do something about it now.
A friend of mine has a brand called Gather and See, it’s focused towards the female market and she’s had that brand for a while and I think it was tough a few years ago getting it off the ground, they’re more established now and it’s very easy to buy into. I'd rather spend a couple of pounds more to do something right where possible.
What was the best piece of advice you were ever given in your sporting career?
Thats a really great question and I think it is that you have to enjoy it. You got to be happy, happiness is key. I was certainly very lucky as a player that I found something I loved so much that it didn’t ever feel like a job, still doesn’t feel like a job looking back it. I’ve made great memories and great friends.
On the flip side of that you slide into the coaching and management world, you know with the pressure and situations you find yourself in sometimes it can be difficult to enjoy it. So I think enjoying it is hugely important.
Working hard is also something that is important and having the hours under your belt to feel like an expert is massively important. It’s something that I’ve seen in the best people I have been around in the sport and business world.
Is there anyone that stood out to you in the teams you played in, who you thought that's the benchmark of the level I need to be working at?
I say all the time the best players in the world that I’ve played with are generally the guys working the hardest. You got Martin Johnson, Brian O'Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Keith Wood, guys who are tremendously talented but talent really will only get you so far. These are the top end guys that have always had that real desire to be first on the field and last off of it.
If you could go back and tell your 21 year old self anything, what would it be?
I guess I would have encouraged myself to study a little bit more. I guess I always took time to spend with people and have coffee and socialise. But where I find myself a little bit older, I’ve become more hungry to learn, educate myself more. I think it would have been great to do a few more courses and even small things, particularly even DIY, plumbing, electrics because I’m completely hopeless when it comes to anything at home!
Just little things, when you’ve got time on your hands just use it. People say studying has to be five years in academics but I just think better yourself. Time spent with friends is great but I think we can always find an hour in the week to make ourselves better in some way.
So the big one, the Six Nations, whats your thoughts on round 1 and predictions for the tournament?
Round 1 was was really interesting and so I predicted before the six nations started, which I’m not just saying now but I predicted France to win, Ireland 2nd, Scotland 3rd and England 4th, Wales 5th and Italy 6th Thats the order, I did it in the Mail before so there is evidence!
I still think that's going to be true. Over the weekend of round 1 I predicted Ireland would beat Wales by 20 points. I thought Wales in Dublin is a very different prospect, because they’ve had a few senior leadership issues. Wales have kind of almost a team transitioned, they won the championship last year but I didn’t think they deserved to. They won 2 games to the red cards and I thought they were probably in around 3rd but they were actually the top side.
I think France are looking very dangerous. Ireland go to France this weekend, Jonny Sexton is not going to be fit, I think he’s got a hamstring injury so I think France will beat Ireland. Ireland then have to go to England, that's going to be a big game. I think England will have some bodies back, big game this weekend is Scotland - Wales. If it was any year before I would always say Scotland would win that but I think Wales coming off the back of a beating in Ireland could make it close. I think France will be too strong for everyone. I think Ireland would but slightly concerned on the way to Paris. Scotland have beaten England but I still don’t think they’ll win it but they have got France in Scotland so it’ll be interesting.
(Note: this interview was recorded on Thursday February 10th, prior to Round 2 of the 2022 Six Nations tournament)