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
"I'm feeling pretty good, obviously it was very
emotional," said Wood. "It didn't hit me until the final
"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
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.
speak in our own language, it's hard for our wives and
families to figure out what we are saying or doing".
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
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
"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.
"The heart is willing, the head is willing, the body's
"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".