Keith Wood


Considered one of the best hookers in rugby union history, Keith Wood was capped 58 times for Ireland, scoring 75 points, including 15 tries which remains the all-time record for a player in his position.

Known for being an inspirational leader and a combative presence in the middle of the field, he was also a set piece specialist who rarely failed to find his jumper in line outs. Keith played in three World Cups for Ireland, as well as memorable tours with the British & Irish Lions.

As a motivational and after dinner speaker Keith is able to display the importance of team unity, as well as talk leadership, pressure and maximising success. Always engaging and entertaining, he has a wealth of stories to share, each told with an infectious passion for the game, the media and life.

Known by many during his playing days, as ‘The Raging Potato’ due to his no-holes-barred approach and bald head, as well as Uncle Fester for his supposed resemblance to the Addam’s Family character, Keith could flick between the lighthearted and serious, but always retained a fierce competitive edge on the field.

It was this and his ability to lead the team that saw him captain the Ireland team between 1997-2003. The journey was an impressive one, especially for a player that had previously had a career as a banker, during his amateur days with Irish side, Garryowen before the game went professional in 1995.

His commitment to his club teams and national side showed his deep-seated desire to prove himself at the top-level, and the accolades duly followed. He won the very first World Rugby Player of the Year award in 2001, beating stiff competition from international teammate Brian O’Driscoll, Australia’s George Gregan and George Smith, as well as England fly-half, Jonny Wilkinson.

One of his most memorable performances saw him score four tries against USA in the pool for the 1999 Rugby World Cup. In 2005 he was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame after nine years as an Ireland international, and eight as a professional player. His club career saw him spend seven years at Harlequins, over two spells, that sandwiched a year long stint at Munster.

Keith was brought into the BBC punditry team just before his retirement and has been covering international and domestic rugby fixtures for 21 years. He has also penned columns for The Daily Telegraph, and toured the UK as an after dinner speaker, taking in some of the most prestigious theatres in the country. This has seen him speak at and host all manner of occasions that have included events such as the FGB’s Rugby Lunch 2012, Trinity’s Health and Sports Week 2017, Lansdowne FC’s annual dinner and an Ayr Community Trust rugby lunch.

To book Keith Wood as the rugby speaker for your corporate event, function or conference, simply contact the Champions Speakers agency.

When at corporate events, Keith is known to cover the following topics:

  • Drive & Determination
  • Leadership
  • Peak Performance
  • Rugby World Cup
  • British & Irish Lions
  • Sporting Success