Jamie Heaslip doesn’t answer my call because he’s changing a nappy. He rings right back though, apologising and laughing while his shoulder holds the phone up to his ear: “I thought it would be appropriate to finish here first.”
A few things come to mind when discussing Heaslip. Rugby, naturally; a former Irish rugby union player for Leinster and Ireland and widely considered the best no. 8 we’ve ever had. Tech, sure; Heaslip worked in Google for a time and now pivots between investing and promoting start-ups. And pub landlord; he acts as owner and director of Dublin bars Lemon & Duke and The Bridge 1859, respectively. It’s a full-circle move, he shares, as his first job was collecting glasses in now-defunct pubs and nightclubs in the North Kildare sphere.
“I was sent out to work every summer to earn money to keep me going. I was a kitchen porter in Craddockstown Golf Club way back when, a security guard in the Square, Tallaght one time, I can’t even remember what else,” he muses. “When I started in [rugby] academies, it was class, as they gave you a bit of pocket money to work with. Contrary to what my siblings would say, I’m actually not the spoilt youngest child they’d tell you I was!”
These days, work centres, mainly, around rugby still, despite other impressive side hustles. He’s speaking with us today about RTÉ Sport’s Six Nations Coverage, a gig that makes him nostalgic, for obvious reasons. “I’m retired nearly four years,” he says, “and haven’t played a game in nearly five due to injury. I was very lucky with my career and the opportunities rugby presented to me, but I honestly don’t miss it, in a weird way. Elite sports are all-consuming and inherently quite selfish, so I’m happy enough these days to be able to enjoy family time while also being involved a little bit with commentary as such.
Saying that, we were launching the coverage the other day and I saw the Six Nations Cup — and all I could think of was “oh my God, I’ve drunk so much beer out of that trophy.
Born in Tiberias, Israel, while his father retired Brigadier General Richard Heaslip was on UN Interim Force duty in Lebanon, 38-year-old Heaslip, the you
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