by Mark Wyatt
When he’s not scoring tries on his debut or playing in front of packed crowds at top stadia, Tom O’Flaherty is studying for his degree in French at Cardiff University. The London-born winger has made a scintillating start to his Osprey’s career with a try against Harlequins on his debut followed up by two more against Cardiff Blues. Gair Rhydd had an exclusive chat with the man who is turning heads across South Wales and making a big impact in the world of professional rugby.
Gair Rhydd: Hi Tom, it’s been a bit of whirlwind for you since you made your debut last week and you’ve hit the ground running for the Ospreys, how have you felt with your performances?
Tom O’Flaherty: I’m pretty happy and content with my games. The performance against the Blues I was happier with because the team got the win but overall I’ve had a good few days out and I’m happy with how everything is going right now.
GR: Is it good to play alongside Sam Underhill, whose going through the same kind of journey you are as a student?
Tom: Yeah absolutely, we share lifts to training all the time and get on well. It’s nice having someone who is studying at Cardiff as well. Obviously we are both in the same boat when it comes to playing rugby and balancing our student lives – so having him is very helpful.
GR: You’ve scored points in some big matches so far in your career but what’s been your best match to date?
Tom: Straight away I’d say Varsity has to be up there and obviously my last two matches for Ospreys have been pretty memorable so I’ll put them in there as well. There was a match that I played back at school for Dulwich in the St Joseph’s tournament final for Ipswich which was definitely a standout for me. I guess most of the finals I’ve played in have been pretty eventful I guess and so it’s difficult to pick one match!
GR: How has playing at Cardiff University helped you as a player?
Tom: Uni rugby has been brilliant for me, my first year was like a stepping stone into the teams for university rugby and club rugby so I was prepared early on. It’s honestly a great experience playing with the boys at the university and it’s a top laugh. Personally I think the rugby club get a load of bad stick a lot of the time but it’s not fair on them mostly, the camaraderie you get from playing in those teams is second to none and all the boys are sound blokes so it’s great fun! Playing rugby for Cardiff has genuinely been an integral part of my rugby career.
GR: Raised in London, playing in Wales and studying French – where can you see yourself playing in the future?
Tom: I have no idea! We’ll have to wait and see what happens I suppose. I was playing in France last year at Montpellier whilst I was studying and I loved that. I guess I’ll just have to see what opportunities come my way and wherever I’m playing my rugby I’m sure I’ll be happy.
GR: What are your personal goals for your game over the next few years, are Pro-12 and international rugby at the forefront for you?
Tom: I’m looking forward to the next step and I’m trying not to get carried away. I’m still relatively young as a player and so obviously every opportunity that comes my way I’m looking to grab it with both hands.