Sport Rugby

Monday 23 July 2018

Evergreen Peter Stringer bows out having inspired a new generation

Stringer never allowed his size deter him from fulfilling his dream, and for that he has inspired a whole new generation of young hopefuls, as he bows out a legend of Irish rugby. Photo: Getty Images
Stringer never allowed his size deter him from fulfilling his dream, and for that he has inspired a whole new generation of young hopefuls, as he bows out a legend of Irish rugby. Photo: Getty Images
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Four years earlier, at the opposite end of the same Millennium Stadium pitch, Peter Stringer fed a Munster scrum, only to cry foul after the infamous 'Hand of Neil Back' brushed the ball from his grasp.

As stories of redemption go, scoring what is still one of the most memorable tries in European Cup final history, Stringer's moment of ingenuity in the 2006 win over Biarritz, will stand the test of time.

No matter how many times you watch the clip of the diminutive scrum-half peeling around the blindside, it still looks that Serge Betsen will devour him. Yet that is exactly what Stringer based his remarkable 20-year professional career on - having the speed of thought to outfox bigger opponents.

And it was for that reason, that he regularly proved that despite guys getting bigger, faster and stronger, there is always room for a smaller, clever player.

As for his ability to perfectly execute a tap tackle, the sight of Jason Robinson or Dan Luger crumpling to a heap will bring back many happy memories.

In terms of setting an example for younger players to follow, there have been few better down through the years than the Cork native.

As it does to everyone, time has finally caught up with Stringer, but the fact it has done so at the ripe old age of 40 is a testament to the manner in which the former PBC student has looked after his body since breaking onto the scene with Munster back in 1998.

First onto the training pitch, last off it, Stringer has never touched a drop of alcohol or taken a drag of a cigarette, and a couple of years ago was one of the fittest players at Sale.

Despite playing for five English clubs, Stringer will be best remembered for his time with Munster. Although he made 230 appearances for his home province, many still feel that he should have racked up even more.

The quality of his bullet-like pass never diminished, which why Premiership clubs still saw plenty of value in him.

Leaving Munster was, however, a tough time, and as Paul O'Connell wrote in his book, he did so without ever getting a chance to say a proper goodbye.

"He kept the hurt to himself, but it was killing Strings not to be involved as much as he once was," O'Connell said.

Similarly with Ireland, Stringer always hoped to join the centurion club, but as it is, he has been stuck on 98 caps since the 2011 Six Nations, which may well be one of his few regrets of what has been an outstanding career.

He has come a long way since being mistaken for a mascot during a schools game in Dublin many moons ago.

Stringer never allowed his size deter him from fulfilling his dream, and for that he has inspired a whole new generation of young hopefuls, as he bows out a legend of Irish rugby.

Irish Independent

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