Saturday 25 November 2017

John Hayes' wife Fiona Steed skipped swapping 'fashion advice with Katie Middleton' for under-10 camogie blitz

The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge before the Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium, London
The Duke and the Duchess of Cambridge before the Rugby World Cup match at Twickenham Stadium, London
Fiona Steed and John Hayes.

SHE may have had one of the most coveted tickets in the world at her fingertips, but Fiona Steed, the wife of rugby legend John ‘Bull’ Hayes, gave up her pass to the royal box at Twickenham for an under-10 county camogie blitz.

The mother-of-three was asked to the opening of the 2015 World Cup as a guest of her husband, who was one of 20 rugby legends invited to take part in the spectacular ceremony last Friday.

“We had to keep it to ourselves,” said Fiona, who is the former Irish women’s rugby captain. “An email was sent that it was to be a surprise.

“It was the same people who were doing the Olympics opening ceremony and they requested that we kept it to a bare minimum of need-to-know people.”

However, Fiona’s under-10 camogie team in Cappamore, Co Limerick, came before the royal family.

“I’m doing a diploma in healthcare management in UL which is on every second Friday and the county camogie blitz was on Saturday,” she said.

“I do all the organising and things like that. I thought, ‘I can’t expect other people to spend the day in UL’.

“At that stage I didn’t know it was for the royal box or anything like that.”

Fiona suggested to John that he take Mike Fogarty – best man at the couple’s wedding – to London for the ceremony, and Mike jumped at the chance.

Last week, Fiona realised the invites included two fancy VIP passes with “Royal Box Enclosure” on them.


When a picture of Prince William came through on her phone on Friday night, Fiona realised what she was missing.

“I thought, ‘OK, I have just given up swapping fashion advice with Kate for my under-10 camogie,” she joked.

“When I went in to UL on Saturday morning, all the girls were there and they were all a bit giddy. I was saying, ‘Ye better be good today because I gave up my seat with the duchess’.”

Fiona watched the ceremony with her mum Maureen and John’s mother Marie, and her three children – Sally (9), Roisin (6) and Bill (3).

John said it was an “absolute honour” to represent Ireland at the ceremony.

Members of the royal family, including Prince William, his wife Kate and brother Harry, were in attendance in the royal box.

“I shook hands with them. I’d met them before. They’re really down-to-earth,” said John, adding that Prince Harry “seems to be good craic”.

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