The Leeside Legends series: Stringer was an inspiration to a generation of rugby fans

The Leeside Legends series: Stringer was an inspiration to a generation of rugby fans
Munster's Peter Stringer goes in for his try against Biarritz during the Heineken cup final 2006. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

THEY called him the ‘Pocket Rocket’ in rugby circles but the old saying “the best of goods come in small parcels” is certainly a fitting tribute to Corkman Peter Stringer.

Born in 1977, Peter is a former Irish scrum-half and had an incredible rise to fame when he broke into the International team in 2000 before playing his last game in 2011 in Ireland’s 24-8 win against England. In between he inspired Munster to Heineken Cup glory.

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

He began his education at Ballinlough National School before heading for Presentation Brothers College for his secondary education.

Like many Cork youngsters Stringer’s first education to team games was in the Ballinlough hurling and football leagues.

It was inevitable he would switch his sporting attentions once he attended Presentation Brothers College.

Peter got an early taste of European success in his rugby career when he was part of the Cork Constitution U12 team that travelled to France and won the European championship where a certain Ronan O’Gara was also part of that historic winning side.

It is amazing to think that in 1995 Stringer could not get into the Presentation Brothers team that won the Munster Schools Senior Cup but 12 months later they repeated their win and he played a major part in that victory.

In the semi-final of the 1996 Senior Cup Pres had a superb 8-6 win over neighbours Christian Brothers College and in the same year, Stringer was selected on the Irish Schools team that toured Australia that crowned a magnificent year.

After spending three years playing at UCC he was called up to the Munster panel at the start of the 1998 season where he was named as a substitute against Edinburgh.

Peter was a revelation in his first season with Munster as he helped them to a quarter-final place where they lost to French side Colomiers and the following season was the World Cup year where Ireland were defeated by Argentina in Lens.

Stringer proved the following year that he was no one-season wonder, and it wasn’t long before his crisp accurate passing was noticed by the Irish selectors.

Stringer scoring for Bath. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images
Stringer scoring for Bath. Picture: Clive Rose/Getty Images

The year of 2000 was bitter-sweet for the young scrum-half as the year got off to a flyer when winning his first cap for Ireland against Scotland in the Six Nations Championship.

Sadly 2000 ended on a low note as Munster lost out to Northampton in an epic European Cup final in Twickenham.

There was more disappointment for Stringer the following season as Munster failed again this time to Stade Francais in Lille this time at the semi-final stage.

Further caps against Samoa, New Zealand and Romania saw Stringer establish himself as a world-class scrum-half.

The incident in the 2002 European Cup final against Leicester in the Millennium Stadium is still talked about as with the clock running down Munster were awarded a scrum near the Leicester line.

Just as Peter was about to put the ball into the scrum the Leicester flanker Neil Back knocked it out of his hand much to the dismay of Stringer but typical of the player he shrugged off the incident.

“I was furious at the time but sport is about incidents and he got away with it which probably incensed the whole of Ireland at the time.”

Picture: Chris Bacon/PA
Picture: Chris Bacon/PA

Munster gained revenge in style 12 months later when they defeated Leicester away in the Heineken Cup quarter-final.

In 2003 Ireland suffered a humiliating defeat against England a game that decided the Grand Slam as Stringer looked back on that game with sheer disappointment.

Picture: INPHO/Patrick Bolger
Picture: INPHO/Patrick Bolger

“We were given a mighty chance to defeat England but in a nutshell they run us ragged on the day.”

Stringer completed his international career in 2011 against the same opposition but it was on a winning note as they defeated them 24-8.

Stringer played a key role for Munster when winning the 2006 Heineken Cup scoring their second try in the 23-19 win over Biarritz. 

Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Picture: Eddie O'Hare

Stringer was replaced by Tomás O’Leary in the 2008 final and had to be content for a place on the bench in Munster’s 16-13 win over Toulouse.

Yet Stringer extended his career by enjoying spells Saracens, Newcastle, Bath, Sale and Worcester before retiring in 2018.

At 5’ 7” Stringer tackled and mixed with the best during his glittering career and Cork is proud to have produced such a lion-hearted player.

  • Peter Stringer began his sporting career playing both hurling and football in the Ballinlough Street Leagues.
  • He was a member of the Presentation Brothers College that won the Munster Senior Schools Cup in 1996.
  • Stringer made his debut for Ireland in February 2000 against Scotland
  • He began his rugby career at Cork Con where he won a European Cup U12 title in 1988
  • He retired from international rugby with 98 caps following Ireland’s 24-8 win against England in 2011.
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