Furlong is currently returning from a long injury lay-off is fighting to make it make in time to throw his hat in the ring for the Lions, but at the time he was an as yet unheard of up-and-coming frontrow talent.
Despite the talent at Ruddock’s disposal, it wasn’t all plain sailing, as the Welshman at times struggled with the pronunciations of some of the player’s Irish names, which he explained in a recent in-depth interview with Ross Harries on TheXV.
“When I was Ireland U20s coach, there were a lot of boys who’d come through the Dublin school system, but plenty of others who hadn’t. Tadgh Furlong was a prime example.
“He was like a 45-year old in a 19-year old’s body. He was larger than life, and could hold an audience. Because I struggled to pronounce a lot of these boys’ names, I’d give them nicknames. My nickname for Tadgh was ‘The Mayor of Wexford’.
As the former Wales B back row explains, he would give out informal awards following U20s matches and Furlong was a star performer at the age-grade.
“For three games running, I gave him my special award for tackler of the day. On the third occasion, I said to the room, ‘guys once again, the tackler of the day is … the Mayor of Wexford.’
“They all gave him a round of applause, and he put his hand up and said ‘please don’t call me that anymore.’
“I thought I’d upset him and said ‘sorry Tadgh what do you want me to call you from now on?’ He said just ‘call me the jukebox.’ I said ‘why the jukebox?’ He said, ‘because the hits just keep coming’.”
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