Interview with Justin Bishop

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Interview with Justin Bishop

by PaulHP on Fri Mar 07, 2008 11:53 am

Justin Bishop needs very little introduction. He made 279 appearances for the club scoring 58 tries, registering 290 points in the process. He also made 25 appearances for Ireland scoring eight tries. He is now player/coach at Doncaster Knights. He kindly answered my questions:


What is your date of birth/place of birth?
08/11/1974 Crawley

When/where did you start to play rugby?
East Grinstead RFC

Have you always played on the wing?
Started off at Fly-Half

When did join London Irish and how many games did you play?
Started at U13s, so quite a few games since then

How many points did you score in your London Irish days?
Not sure but it must be on the website

What brought you to London Irish?
My Mother was Irish so it seemed like the natural place to go

Who did you room with on away matches?
Barry Everitt and Mike Horak

Who was your most difficult opponent whilst at Irish?
Rory Underwood as I was young and still learning the game

What was Sunbury like in your time playing there?
Like my second home

Which ground did you prefer to play on Sunbury, The Stoop or The Madjeski?
No contest, Sunbury of course

What was your favourite away ground?
The Stade Toulouse

What was your most memorable game for Irish and why?
The Powergen cup Final and we won it convincingly

Who do you consider was the best player you played with for London Irish and why?
Steve Bachop, was able to read a game with ease and possessed great skills

Who where the characters at London Irish in your time playing?
Gary (wallet) Halpin , Ken (legend) O’Connell, Phil (the tank) Murphy

You were with the club at the start of professionalism, how did this affect you?
Getting paid for something you love doing has to be the best job in the World

Dick Best is renowned as a hard task master in your opinion was this true?

How different were the coaching methods of Clive Woodward, Willie Anderson, Dick Best, Brendan Venter, Gary Gold & Brian Smith?
They all were very different but each of them had their strengths

Whose did you prefer (and why)?
I loved playing under Clive because we did not play with numbers on our backs

What was the strangest thing you have ever had to do in training?
Run with a weighted vest on as we trained for 1hr

Do you have a favourite Dick Best story?
He had some furniture delivered to his house and it was taken up to the second floor. After inspecting it he saw it had a fault so he shouted down to the delivery people to take it back. They said it wasn’t their problem! Within a few seconds Dick, opened the window and threw the piece of furniture out of the window and it smashed on the floor in front of the delivery men

In your opinion which season had the strongest team?

What are your memories of the Cup Final?
Scoring two tries!

Do you miss playing for Irish?
Yes, but you have to move on

When was the last time you attended a London Irish match?
The away match at Leeds this year

Do you have any favourite stories from your Irish days?
I have hundreds but one of my favourites was just winding up Kieran McCarthy every day

What are your lasting memories of London Irish?
It was like my second family

The professional London Irish team is no longer a team for Irish/Irish descent players, what are your feelings about this?
I think the game has moved on and to have a quality squad you need players from all over the world

Practically overnight London Irish went from a side full of Irish Internationals, to the League of Nations. How did this change the balance of the club?
There is still a core of Irish people and there always will be so they are able to uphold the Irish connection

Do you ever envisage London Irish building their own stadium?
Yes eventually!

You played for Ireland 25 times, how did it feel to pull on the shirt for the first time?
A huge honour

What was your most memorable match?
My first cap

Who do consider was the best player you played with for Ireland?
Brian O’Driscoll

Who was your hardest International opponent?
Jonah Lomu

Did you go on any overseas tours with Ireland? If so to where?
I was lucky enough to tour all over the world

What was your favourite international away ground?
The Millenium Stadium

Do you wish that you had the opportunity to play in Croke Park?

The IRFU had a policy of picking home based players, where you tempted to return to Ireland to play at this time?
I had offers but I did not want to leave London Irish

Did you win any other honours (Barbarians/Trial/County etc)?
Funnily enough I will be representing the Barbarians on March 18th at Bedford

Who was your biggest influence on your rugby playing career?
My mother!

Recently in an International Rugby News article it mentioned that your grandfather played for Ireland and a great uncle, and his son, chaired the IRFU, what are their names?
My grandfather was Thomas Dunn, my great uncle Samuel Irwin and son Sinclair Irwin Thomas Dunn of NIFC played for Ulster (3-3) and Ireland (9-17) versus the New Zealand All Blacks in 1935

Do you feel that today’s rugby players play too much rugby?

Are there any rules that you would like to see changed?
I would like to ban mauls from the game of rugby

You are now the backs coach at Doncaster Knights, how is it going?
Very well I am very much enjoying it

How good is the standard of rugby in National League One?
The physicality is up there with the Premiership but the skill level is a little behind

What do you prefer coaching or playing?

Is there a player at Doncaster that we should keep an eye out for?
Toma Toke – Loose head prop


What tip would you give a youngster who wants to be a rugby player?
Just enjoy yourself and work very hard on your individual skills

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully a successful coach at top level


International record: ... HeroID=426 ... gby_player)
Last edited by PaulHP on Fri Mar 07, 2008 9:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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by PGT on Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:41 pm

Another excellent interview.

My favourite Bishy story, told to me by Conor, occurred after he damaged his ankle against Sarries at Vicarage Road (to put this into context this was shortly after Conor had been invalided out of the game with what appeared to be a not dissimilar, but in the end was not, injury at Kingsholm).

The medics rushed on and it was clear that Bishy was in a bad way. The paramedics were also in attendance and 'gas and air' was being administered. Realising the seriousness of the situation, Conor also went onto the pitch and as he reached Bishy he looked up and said "boss I think I'll have to go off"!

Justin you are a legend and someone who gave me and the family countless hours enjoyment watching you play. Keep up the good work at Doncaster and who knows in a few years you might be back with us coaching at your second home.
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by JamesC on Fri Mar 07, 2008 2:48 pm

Excellent stuff.

Just to add to PGT's note I think the full version has Conor lying on the ground at Gloucester with his ankle contorted, Bish walks up to him and says "Get up you poof" or similar. Conor stores this away and is about to choose some choice words when similar fate befalls Bish at Sarries - unable to cap Bish's request to come off the field of play. Says a lot about both players.
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by gabriel on Fri Mar 07, 2008 6:12 pm

Bish is what LI is all about. We will never see his likes again!

Untill he comes back as coach, of course.
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by Loobs on Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:03 pm

Ok, let's forget the nostalgia and look at that as a proposition for a professional sporting club. By the time Bish would be potentially returning, the players that he played with would be gone. This is probably important. One would like to think that LI would be regularly in the HC or whatever the top European competition would be called. Therefore, the new coach (Bish) would need to be really at the top of the coaching tree.

That said, it would be feckin' great.
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