Friday 23 June 2017

Ruddock wary of rising Welsh tide as Cardiff loom large on the horizon

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

WHILE England continue to feel the effects of a disastrous World Cup campaign, Welsh rugby is still riding the crest of a wave that was generated in New Zealand.

After the national side went down narrowly to France in the semi-final, a feel-good factor has swept through Welsh rugby, with the regions following suit.

In the opening round of the Heineken Cup, the three Welsh regions involved recorded wins over French opposition, while the Ospreys, despite losing a number of their high-profile stars to lucrative overseas contracts, lead the Pro 12 table.

Leinster's opponents on Friday night, Cardiff, are just a point outside the play-off places and they remain unbeaten in Europe, with former Wales U-16 captain and current Leinster forward Rhys Ruddock agreeing that Welsh rugby is on a high.

"Their performance in the World Cup might have inspired a lot of the young lads. They were watching their colleagues from underage playing in a World Cup and playing well and it would have given them momentum," said the Irish-born back-row.

"But also there is a lot of talent there, they have always been strong sides and it's just a case of having the right team out on the field.


"The regions like the Blues and the Ospreys have a lot of strength in depth and they are really starting to play well at the moment.

"A lot of lads who I would be friendly with over there seem to be enjoying their rugby and enjoying getting the opportunity to play for their province."

Since joining Leinster in 2009 along with his brother Ciaran, Rhys picked up an international cap against Australia and also skippered Leinster during the World Cup.

And while the return of the international contingent means less time on the pitch, he insists there are enough opportunities to impress, with a number of front-line players expected to be absent on Friday night.

"Being captain was a good experience and a great honour," he said. "It was a good couple of weeks to get some game time and feel comfortable at the level. I enjoyed that period and it was a good start to the season for me.

"For us, there is more competition (since the World Cup players returned) and maybe a bit less opportunity. But you can't complain, there have been chances in the last couple of weeks and it's about taking the chance and getting a good performance under your belt so you're ready for whatever games come your way."

Irish Independent

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