Irish rugby duo had told a tale from the Lions
"Completely fabricated after dinner story".
That had been the most recent reaction of ex-England international rugby player Austin Healey when the story of an impromptu boxing match against Ireland legend Brian O'Driscoll while on the 2001 Lions was brought up a few weeks ago (scroll down for the most recent response).
O'Driscoll, with the help of ex-Ireland captain Keith Wood, have told their side of the story once before on Off The Ball and just for a recap, here it is with Keith kicking things off: "It was actually after Duncan McRae beat the crap out of [Ronan O'Gara] in that game. It was just lunacy. He just lost it on the field. Austin came in. He was being an unbelievable pain in the arse, beyond all belief. He was touching ROG's face. He said 'come on, ROG, let's have a little boxing match'. ROG has got really delicate skin, he's got all bruises, cuts and scratches and he's miserable and ROG just said 'piss off, leave me alone, just get away from me.'"
Back then, O'Driscoll picked up the pass on that occasion and proverbially took the story to the try-line.
"I might have been a young lad but because I was good friend with ROG, I just thought that's not on and I kind of said it before I thought about what I was doing and all of a sudden the next thing I realise there were gloves on and there was a ring being made around us and I could tell people were only on one person's side and that was including all of the English players.
John Hayes tackles Austin Healey © INPHO/ Billy Stickland
"It was one of those out of body moments where all of a sudden you realise you've got a little bit of boxing technique and I started landing some shots and he started getting frustrated and started throwing haymakers and I ducked him. I was catching him with little kidney punches. It was one of those dream situations. I called it quits at the right time as well."
Of course, as mentioned above, Healey has cast doubt over that story. So his response was put to O'Driscoll and Wood at tonight's Off The Ball Roadshow at the Olympia.
"One of my friends sent me a text about it," said Wood about Healey's update - or rejection to be more precise -of the story.
"I don't think I embellished that story. I was actually really doubting myself. I said, 'That is true, isn't it?'"
O'Driscoll added: "It's the one story that absolutely kills Austin and his retort, literally and metaphorically when it's brought up, is usually, 'Let's arrange a charity re-match then and I'll box the head off you' which is an answer in itself because he has a reason to get one back on me. Austin is incredibly confident but he literally has no comeback so his latest comeback is just to completely refute that it ever happened."
But O'Driscoll did add that he wouldn't be in a rush to box Healey again as the ex-England man remains "fit and agile" and the ex-Ireland captain would also love to preserve his 1-0 record in their head to head.
Austin Healey has since had his say again...