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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 09:46 GMT
Wood reflects on career
Keith Wood insists that he won't become a coach
Keith Wood ponders life after rugby on Monday morning

A day after retiring from international rugby, Ireland captain Keith Wood was a confused man.

The team had scheduled a compulsory swim the morning after its World Cup quarter-final match against France - mandatory before they lost 43-21 Sunday night in Melbourne, optional once they had.

But Wood, the consummate professional, showed up anyway.

"I was confused, really," said Wood, laughing.

"I was there for what I thought was a compulsory swim and I was one of the few characters to turn up for it".

Wood, a 32-year-old hooker, ended a decade-long, 58-test career following the loss to France, the victim of chronic injuries to his shoulder and neck.

After spending 11 months on the sidelines, he was patched up enough to lead Ireland into the World Cup for one last hurrah.

"I'm feeling pretty good, obviously it was very emotional," said Wood. "It didn't hit me until the final whistle.

The buzz of pulling on a green jersey and running out to an international field is irreplaceable
Keith Wood

"Last night, I had a few beers, then a few more, and kind of chilled out a good bit. It's a strange feeling this morning".

Wood said he'll miss two things most.

"The buzz of pulling on a green jersey and running out to an international field is irreplaceable" he said.

"I don't think that I will ever get used to not having that. It was the cornerstone for the last 10 or more years".

And friendship with his teammates and opponents.

"You miss the camaraderie," he said.

"We are absolutely obnoxious after being together for two to three months.

"We speak in our own language, it's hard for our wives and families to figure out what we are saying or doing".

The skippers greet each other after France's win over Ireland
Keith Wood is consoled by French skipper Fabien Galthie

Wood's career saw rugby move from a mostly amateur sport into professionalism, and he was happy to have been there for the transition.

"I guess I'm a dying breed," he said.

"I had the best of it, an opportunity to see what it was like in amateurism, to have a life experience out of rugby.

"And then like a fairly 50-50 split, to have my career finish in the professional era, I think I had the best of both worlds".

One of his most special moments was saying goodbye Sunday night to his good friend Fabien Galthie, France's scrum-half and captain, who will also retire at the end of the World Cup.

"I just said, 'we have had good days together, and bad days together',"said Wood.

"And he said, 'it was either you or me retiring today'."

Wood said he was warned by doctors that he could risk serious, long-term problems if he didn't retire.

I don't have the temperament for a coach
Keith Wood

"The heart is willing, the head is willing, the body's had enough.

"I'd like to be in a situation to keep going on and on and on, but I don't ever want to be in a situation where my standard falls and I slip away in poor play or I retire by having another bad shoulder injury".

Wood will spend the next two weeks in Sydney until the World Cup ends, then head home to Ireland where he will plot his future.

"After Christmas, like every other guy who finishes playing rugby, I have to start working.

"I have a few projects on the line, and I'll keep busy".

However, Wood insists that coaching is not on the cards.

"I don't have the temperament for a coach.

"I've known that for a long time. Eddie (O'Sullivan) may be a cranky man but he isn't quite as cranky as I am".



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