As part of UL Journalism’s 2023 sports insights series, Bernard Jackman, a rugby analyst, was a guest speaker at the Glucksman Library this week in anticipation of Ireland’s crucial match against Scotland in the Rugby World Cup.
With a big turnout for the sportsman from many UL students, Bernard captivated his audience with an in depth talk on his career as an ‘accidental journalist’.
“I don’t have a traditional journalism background, but I’ve done the hard yards in many different ways”.
From leading Connacht’s rugby team, achieving a grand slam victory with Leinster, and playing at the international level under the guidance of Warren Gatland, Jackman’s trajectory shifted towards coaching and management in 2017 when he assumed the position of head coach for the Dragons in Wales.
While one might argue he has seen and done it all, Bernard Jackman was merely at the outset of his career. The world of media called after his retirement, especially after completing his thesis on ‘the correlation between high-performance behaviour in elite sports and business teams.’
While offering his insights in a weekly player diary for the Evening Herald, he also stepped into the role of a pundit for RTE after retiring from rugby.
“I went into RTE for paid work, but for me it was all about the experience. I put myself out there as much as I could. Some of it I got paid for, some of it I didn’t.”
When it comes to working in media and writing about rugby, who could be better suited than someone who has been out on the pitch themselves?
“I’m constantly watching rugby; I know all the players now. The more you do the easier it is.”
In lieu of the upcoming clash with Scotland this weekend, Bernard has shared his experience as a professional player on the Irish team.
During his playing days, Jackman faced media criticism, vividly recalled when a journalist remarked, “Bernard Jackman is so inaccurate, if he fell off a boat, he’d be lucky to hit water.” Now, being on the other side of the media, critiquing players’ performances presents a new challenge—one he is more than capable of tackling.
“There is a fine line between harsh feedback about you and being able to self-analyse your performance with resilience.”
Now an accomplished journalist and analyst, Jackman will continue his coverage of Ireland’s journey through the Rugby World Cup as they take on Scotland in their make-or-break final Pool B fixture this weekend.
With so much experience under his belt, if you were looking to follow the World Cup through the eagle eye of an ex-player, Bernard Jackman is a clear choice.
“I’ve had six or seven different careers. Not jobs. Careers.”
So, what advice would he have for a room full of aspiring sports journalists?
“Just be good.”