Dion O'Cuinneagain

Dion O' Cuinneagain
Date of birth (1972-05-24) 24 May 1972
Place of birth Cape Town, South Africa
Height 1.93
Weight 102
School Rondebosch Boys' School
University Stellenbosch University
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Number 8
Professional / senior clubs
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Sale Sharks
Ballymena RFC
Provincial/State sides
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Western Province
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
Ireland A
Sevens national teams
Years Club / team Comps
1995 South Africa

Dion O' Cuinneagain (born 24 May 1972, Cape Town, South Africa) is a former rugby union player who represented both South Africa and Ireland. Since retiring as a rugby player, O' Cuinneagain has worked as a doctor and as a rugby coach.

Early years

O' Cuinneagain was born and raised in Cape Town. His father, Connell, was a dentist who came from County Dublin, Ireland. The O' Cuinneagain family originally came from Enniscorthy in County Wexford. His mother was a nurse who came from Lancashire. O' Cuinneagain was educated at Rondebosch Boys' School before going onto to study medicine at Stellenbosch University. As a youth he showed potential in several sports. He also represented Western Cape at schoolboy cricket and was a notable hurdler.[1][2][3][4][5]

Clubs and Provinces

O' Cuinneagain played rugby at various levels with University of Cape Town and then Western Province where his team mates included, among others, Tiaan Strauss, Corne Krige and Bobby Skinstad. However his career was initially hindered by a serious hip injury and in 1997 he left South Africa and moved to England where he joined Sale Sharks. Then in 1999 he switched to playing for Ballymena RFC and Ulster. He made five appearances for the latter in the Heineken Cup .[1][6][7] Injuries continued to hinder O'Cuinneagain's career and in 1999 he suffered two shoulder injuries and a broken wrist.[8][9] In 2000 he decided to return to South Africa to complete his medical studies.[10] However, in 2001 he made a brief comeback when he agreed to help out an injury depleted Munster. On 13 April 2001 he played in a 24–22 win against a Rest of Ireland XV at Thomond Park[11] before making a late appearance as a replacement against Stade Français in the Heineken Cup semi-final defeat on 22 April.[12]

Rugby international

South Africa

O' Cuinneagain captained South Africa at sevens level. He was a schoolboy international in 1989 and 1990[13] and in 1995 played for the sevens team at the Hong Kong Sevens.[1][14]


O' Cuinneagain first played for Ireland at A level and on 3 April 1998 played against England A in a 40–30 away defeat.[15] Between 1998 and 2000 he made 19 full appearances and scored one try for the senior Ireland team. He made his senior international debut in a 37–13 defeat against South Africa on 13 June 1998. He played in all four games during the 1999 Five Nations Championship and then captained Ireland on both a tour of Australia and during the 1999 Rugby World Cup. He scored his one and only try for Ireland on 15 October 1999 in a World Cup game against Romania. He made his final appearance for Ireland in a 60–13 win against Italy at Lansdowne Road on 2 March 2000.[16][17][18]

Later career

After retiring as a rugby player, O' Cuinneagain returned to Cape Town to work as a doctor. He has since worked for several institutes, including the Sports Science Orthopaedic Clinic at the Sport Science Institute of South Africa.[19][20] He has also worked as a general practitioner in Tokai, Cape Town.[21] He remains actively involved in rugby and has coached and / or managed the South Africa Sevens and rugby teams at the University of Cape Town .[22][23][24]


  1. 1 2 3 "sportsillustrated.cnn.com". Sports Illustrated. 27 November 1998. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  2. www.telegraph.co.uk
  3. Independent Newspapers Online (5 May 2010). "www.capeargus.co.za". capeargus.co.za. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  4. UCT Athletic Club
  5. "www.rugby365.com". rugby365.com. 16 April 2004. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  6. "www.sportinglife.com". sportinglife.com. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  7. www.ercrugby.com
  8. Dublin Mountains (12 December 1999). "www.independent.ie". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  9. independent.ie apps (24 January 2001). "www.independent.ie". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  10. "news.bbc.co.uk". news.bbc.co.uk. 29 November 2000. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  11. "www.rte.ie". rte.ie. 13 April 2001. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  12. www.ercrugby.com
  13. "SA Rugby Annual 2007" (PDF). South African Rugby Union. p. 516. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
  14. Lanson Kelly (6 May 1999). "Irish Examiner". Archives.tcm.ie. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  15. "www.irishrugby.ie". irishrugby.ie. 26 January 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  16. Ireland stats at www.irishrugby.ie Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  17. Books (14 September 2003). "www.independent.ie". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  18. "Ireland stats at www.sporting-heroes.net". Sporting-heroes.net. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  19. "www.health24.com". health24.com. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  20. "Sports Science Orthopaedic Clinic". Ssoc.co.za. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  21. "www.safindit.co.za". safindit.co.za. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
  22. "Sevens Boks gather for training camp". South African Rugby Union. 27 February 2004. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  23. www.news.uct.ac.za
  24. Independent Newspapers Online (5 May 2010). "www.capeargus.co.za". capeargus.co.za. Retrieved 12 December 2011.
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