With rugby’s big dance in France now happily upon us - where he’ll be calling the action for ITV - former Leinster, Ireland and British & Irish Lions captain, and now Zerofit shareholder Brian O’Driscoll discussed his passion for golf and business to journalists from leading publications Irish Golfer and Today’s Golfer, and walked them through what his life looks like after an illustrious playing career.
The interview took place at Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links just outside Dublin back in June, with Brian playing alongside Dad Frank – himself a capped Ireland international – against John Craven and Mark McGowan from the media. And just like now, the foursome were treated to a gloriously warm day that allowed Brian to tap into the technology of the new Ice Weave Baselayer.
‘It feels great,’ O’Driscoll smiles from his glistening white full-sleeved skin. ‘This is my first time wearing this one and it’s really nice and cool. It’s light, you can move in it, and it’s no harm not getting sunburnt either,' he tells John and Mark.
Brian was first introduced to Zerofit when we sent him a selection of winter baselayers including the Ultimate Top and Leggings that he would hopefully use while analysing the play in the domestic, European and International scene at the start of 2022. But instead of asking for the oh-so predictable plug on social media, we simply wanted his view on the products.
‘There was no ask,’ O’Driscoll remembers. ‘A really important thing that lots of brands could learn from is never ask to have stuff posted on social media.
‘You’re far more likely for people to post if you don’t ask. So, when I saw there was no request, just tell us what you think of it, for me it just said a lot about the people behind the product. There’s an emotional intelligence involved in that!’
A meeting was set up for Brian and his agent Susan, along with Zerofit MD Michael Morton who takes up the story of what happened next.
‘We’d gone down to Dublin to speak to Brian about a possible ambassadorial role – he would have been our first one of this kind on the books,’ he explains.
‘However, he’d been so impressed with the Ultimate products and how they performed, their versatility across multiple markets throughout the world, he asked if there was a possibility to become an equity partner,’ adds Morton.
Zerofit first launched to the consumer at the start of 2021, beginning in golf where the Ultimate baselayer quickly established itself as a product category leader. Indeed, it won an Editor’s Choice Award in Golf Monthly magazine in 2022, and matched the feat in Today’s Golfer’s Awards for 2022 and 2023, with the editorial team noting that: ‘From our experience, the Heatrub (Ultimate) is the warmest baselayer we’ve ever worn.'
‘I think its potential is huge and its scope to get into multi-sports is massive,’ says Brian.
Outside of golf, Zerofit Baselayers continued to collect accolades across fishing publications, motorcycling magazines and hiking titles, not only in the UK, but also in North America, Australia and New Zealand.
'It’s big in sports like fishing, sailing and motorcycling already but it honestly transcends sports. It’s even great for the general public. The products are in tune with different times of the year.’
He may have earned 133 caps for Ireland - 83 of them as captain - and played in a further eight Tests for the British & Irish Lions - skippering them in 2005 – as well as winning everything there was to win in and the domestic and European game, but even sport’s greatest athletes can be humbled by the game of golf and succumb to the intricacies of it, as Brian explains following an experience at the Alfred Dunhill Pro-Am Links.
‘I remember on a par-5, I was pin high in two just off the green and I got the putter out and four-stabbed and Graeme McDowell’s caddie Ken Comboy turned around and goes to me, ‘some six in fairness!’
‘It was still a two pointer but Christ it was demoralising. Six yards away and four to get down. Humiliating stuff!’
‘The beauty of the Dunhill is I can have the Texas wedge out. I’ve putted out of second cut rough,” he laughs.
In the articles in Today’s Golfer and Irish Golfer, there’s further golfing anecdotes from when Brian played at Augusta, and all sorts of detail on other aspects of his new life including broadcasting as well as reflections on his own storied career in rugby.
And while he is considered as the Greatest Of All Time by some in the sport of rugby, Brian also talked about the day he played a hole with golf’s GOAT, Tiger Woods in 2019 at the PGA Tour’s Zozo Championship in Japan, alongside Rory McIlroy.
‘I was on the tee standing between Rory and Tiger and we’d been hitting seven irons thinking it was going to be that and we get up there and Tiger goes to Rory, ‘what did you hit?’, and he says ‘I nursed a little nine’. I was like, ‘damn, I can’t hit a seven now!’
‘I tried to hit an 8 easy and flushed it over the flag and just off the green. As Rory’s foursomes partner, unsurprisingly we opted to take his tee-shot which was on the green! I was standing over the putt and thought I really should ask him for the line, now he was there. I’m glad I asked! His read was ‘four balls outside of left’, which was about two and a half balls more than I was allowing! Thankfully for once, I hit it exactly where he said and it was never missing.
‘Mike Tindall gives me a high five, Rory does the same, but I’m just thinking, ‘where are you Big Cat?’
‘I spotted him and he gives me a high five and I’m like, ‘what’s an uncomfortable amount of time to hold onto this?!”
The interview with Brian is in this month’s Today’s Golfer and Irish Golfer, both of which are on sale now. Zerofit would like to thank Portmarnock Hotel & Golf Links for all of their help with this feature.