Keith Wood (born 27 January 1972) is an Irish former international rugby union player who played as a hooker for Ireland, the British & Irish Lions, Garryowen, Harlequins and Munster. He was nicknamed 'The Raging Potato' because of his bald head, and as 'Uncle Fester' due to his resemblance to the character in The Addams Family.[1] Wood is considered by many to have been the best hooker in rugby union during his era, winning the inaugural World Rugby Player of the Year award, and to be among the best hookers in the history of the game.[2][3][4]

Keith Wood
Birth nameKeith Gerard Mallinson Wood
Date of birth (1972-01-27) 27 January 1972 (age 51)
Place of birthKillaloe, County Clare, Ireland
Height1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)
Weight106 kg (16 st 10 lb; 234 lb)
SchoolSt Munchin's College
Notable relative(s)Gordon Wood (father)
Rugby union career
Position(s) Hooker
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1991–1994 Garryowen ()
Senior career
Years Team Apps (Points)


International career
Years Team Apps (Points)
1997, 2001
British & Irish Lions

Early life Edit

Wood was born in Killaloe, County Clare, and educated at St Munchin's College, Limerick. His father, Gordon Wood, played prop 29 times for Ireland.

Club career Edit

Wood started his career with Garryowen who he helped to All Ireland titles in 1992 and 1994 before moving to Harlequins. He returned to play with Munster in the 1999–2000 season and played in the European Rugby Cup final that Munster lost to Northampton Saints 9-8 in Twickenham Stadium before returning to Harlequins.

International career Edit

Wood made his international debut in 1994 against Australia. He was capped 58 times for Ireland and five times for the Lions. Never the most accurate player in the set piece his real strength was in leadership and open play where he dominated the world XV's hooker spot.

He played on the 1997 and 2001 Lions tours, and was the inaugural winner of the IRB International Player of the Year award in 2001. He played a part in the Lions' 2-1 series victory over the Springboks in 1997. Wood captained Ireland.

He scored four tries in one game in the 1999 World Cup, in the pool stage against the USA. Ireland were later eliminated from the tournament when they lost to Argentina in the quarter-final play-off.

Wood retired from playing after the 2003 World Cup. He was succeeded as Ireland captain by Brian O'Driscoll.

Legacy Edit

Wood was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2005,[5] and to the IRB Hall of Fame in 2014.[6]

Wood's total of 15 full international test tries was, at his international retirement, the record for a hooker, or indeed any player in the tight five. The previous record for international tries by hookers (or players at any position in the tight five) was 12, set by Sean Fitzpatrick of the New Zealand All Blacks. Wood's record has since been equalled for tight-five players by current USA front-rower Joe Taufete'e.[7] Wood still holds the record for hookers, as Taufete'e to date has scored 14 tries as a hooker and one as a prop.[8]

Media work Edit

Wood has appearances on the BBC as a regular pundit and in The Daily Telegraph as a freelance journalist.

Personal life Edit

Wood used to play hurling, and was a member of the Clare GAA side that played in the inaugural Nenagh Co-op hurling tournament in 1988. In 2018, Wood opened a café and restaurant on the main street in his native Killaloe with business partner Malcolm Bell, called Wood & Bell.[9]

References Edit

  1. ^ "The Claw ready to tackle Uncle Fester". Evening Standard. 4 October 2001. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  2. ^ "Ranking the 10 Best Hookers in Rugby History - Page 3 of 3". 14 December 2017.
  3. ^ "Opinion: The Greatest Six Nations XV of All Time". 30 January 2016.
  4. ^ "World's greatest ever XV: The best ever rugby team in pictures". 14 August 2020.
  5. ^ "Induction Night for Woody". Irish Rugby Football Union. 16 November 2005. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  6. ^ "Keith Wood inducted into IRB Hall of Fame". The Journal Media. 17 November 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  7. ^ Statsguru. "Player Records, overall figures, tight five, by total tries scored". ESPN. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  8. ^ Statsguru. "Joe Taufete'e: Player analysis, match list". ESPN. Retrieved 17 February 2019.
  9. ^ "Keith Wood kicks off Killaloe restaurant Wood&Bell". The Irish Times. 6 January 2018. Retrieved 11 May 2018.

External links Edit

Sporting positions
Preceded by Ireland Rugby Union Captain
1997 - 2003
Succeeded by