Who is Jacques O’Neill? Meet Love Island’s latest bombshell and Gemma Owen’s ex-beau

Um, we sense drama

Paige and Jacques on a date on Love Island 2022
(Image credit: ITV Picture Desk)

Love Island season eight is really pulling out all the stops for this series, from celebrity links to dramatic bombshells—including the shock appearance of Gemma Owen’s ex Jacques O'Neill, who’s looking to ruffle feathers in the villa.

Cue the drama! We’ve got an ex in the building—literally. In episode seven of the ITV2 dating show, we saw Gemma’s ex saunter into the villa and it’s looking like we’re in for yet another love triangle, between the former flames and poor ol’ Luca Bish.

So as we gear up for the utter chaos Jacques could cause—here’s everything we know about the fourth bombshell to land in Mallorca (and here's where to watch Love Island UK if you need to catch up).

Who is Jacques O’Neill? 

We’re sensing a theme with our islanders this year as we’ve got another sporting person. It turns out Jacques, 23, is a professional rugby player, who plays for the Castleford Tigers, though he has now left the team to pursue his stint on Love Island

His profession could be in his favor as rugby players have had a lot of luck in the past—remember Irish rugby player Greg O’Shea? He won season five with Amber Gill—so Jacques has quite the shoes to fill…

How long did Jacques O’Neill and Gemma Owen date? 

According to Gemma, who regaled her fellow islanders with all the details on her ex-beau the pair dated for eight months, a year and a half ago. Meaning Gemma was either 16, or just turned 17 and Jacques was 21. 

This is something that has sparked a major reaction from fans who were already concerned about Gemma being just 19, especially when she coupled up with 27-year-old Davide—who fans thought was acting like her dad!

From what we’ve gathered from Jacques’ comments about their relationship, it didn’t end exactly amicably—from Gemma’s side—with the pair not speaking since their breakup. However, after a very flirtatious reunion, viewers reckon we could have another love triangle on our hands, with Luca having just recoupled with Gemma.

One viewer tweeted (opens in new tab) their reaction saying: “Luca stopping dead when he hears Gemma go ‘no that’s my ex-boyfriend.” Yeah, not ideal. 

Another commented (opens in new tab): “‘How’s the family’ ‘I heard you’ve got a dog’ Yeah Luca and Gemma are finished”.

Another Love Islanded fan then tweeted (opens in new tab): “me waiting for the carnage to begin on Gemma Island.” 

We’ll just have to wait and see how this one plays out!

Naomi is a Lifestyle News Writer with the Women's Lifestyle team and has recently earned her Gold Standard diploma in Journalism with the NCTJ. She has a background in design, having studied Illustration at Plymouth University but has taken a leap into the world of journalism after always having a passion for writing. She currently writes pieces on beauty, trends, fashion, and entertainment for GoodTo and My Imperfect Life. She also tests and reviews beauty and skincare products and tries out the latest TikTok hacks for My Imperfect Life.


Before working for Future Publishing’s Lifestyle News team, she worked in the Ad production team. Here she wrote and designed adverts on all sorts of things, which then went into print magazines across all genres. Now, when she isn’t writing articles on celebs, fashion trends, or the newest shows on Netflix, you can find her drinking copious cups of coffee, drawing and probably online shopping.