Thursday 23 November 2017

Garry Ringrose: 'All I can really control is the next 80 minutes'

With many balls in the air between rugby and his studies, Garry Ringrose is enjoying the moment as bigger tests loom

Garry Ringrose in action against Castres last weekend
Garry Ringrose in action against Castres last weekend

Marcus Ó Buachalla

Garry Ringrose is a busy man. Trying to fit in exams with preparations for a Champions Cup game in France against Montpellier. It's not easy.

However, echoing the views of his fellow Leinster colleagues earlier in the week, he isn't complaining either and instead his thoughts drift towards Munster.

Ringrose prepares to tackle Mathieu Babillot along with team-mate Cian Healy
Ringrose prepares to tackle Mathieu Babillot along with team-mate Cian Healy

"It's been a difficult week. Some of the lads would have known Anthony (Foley) very well and would have played with him with Munster or Ireland. Others played against him and others just came across him in his capacity as a coach with Ireland Wolfhounds or with Munster and playing against them. So it hit everyone in different ways but I suppose however bad we feel, it's hard to even imagine how the Munster lads must be feeling.

"That's before you even talk about his poor family and his two boys. It's heartbreaking and they are all very much in our thoughts. Thomond Park is going to be a sombre place on Saturday and while I know they will try to get a performance and get up and running in Europe, it will be all about Anthony and rightly so."

John Fogarty spoke about Anthony being Munster and Munster being Anthony. Mike Ross spoke in equally reverential tones. Too young to have crossed paths on the field, Ringrose just remembers an inspirational No 8.

"I've seen plenty of clips of him growing up and you remember the scrum cap and the gloves. The way he would pick up the ball at the base of the scrum and charge at the opposition. It lifted all those around him.

Garry Ringrose is tackled by Castres David Smith during last weekend’s Champions Cup victory. Pics: Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose is tackled by Castres David Smith during last weekend’s Champions Cup victory. Pics: Sportsfile

"Whether in Munster or Ireland colours, it was people like that that stood out growing up. You could see how others responded. I mightn't have wanted to be a No 8 but you wanted to have an impact on a game like Anthony could have."

Leinster will be on the road to France early tomorrow, but they will watch with interest and with heavy hearts later in the day as events unfold in Thomond Park. Then they will turn their attention to their own game on Sunday.


"It's been like that all week really. Trying to focus on Montpellier when we have had to, in meetings and on the pitch but there just has been a cloud over everything I suppose. But we will prepare as best we can and will do our very best. Fogs mentioned that earlier this week and I agree. I think that's the best way of honouring Anthony Foley."

Toulon were in their group last season but Ringrose didn't get game time against the reigning European champions. But he did make his Champions Cup debut off the bench against Wasps and then got a first start and played the full 80 against Bath.

"Last season was great to be involved and I suppose playing alongside the likes of Ben Te'o, Luke Fitzgerald, Ian Madigan and Noel Reid, obviously my first time playing with Isa with him coming back to the club, it was brilliant experience throughout the games. Of course we would have liked to have done better but I think we got some really good experience.

"Would we have preferred to get that experience with a win? Of course! But we didn't and there were some really harsh lessons along the way. But six of us got our first starts against Bath last season and I think five of us were all involved again there against Castres last weekend. So it was hugely beneficial."

Another French team on Sunday. But first exams. He is studying Business and Legal Studies in UCD and while Monday was a day off he, along with a few others from the Leinster squad, was floating around the campus studying.

"I've an accountancy exam on Wednesday evening which is the same day as our big training day this week. Normally it would be our day off which would be perfect for the last-minute studying but not to be this week due to the Sunday game. It's important though to keep working my way through the degree. I'm enjoying it. Good variety to the subjects and it helps keep you distracted so that you don't get consumed by the rugby. But it will be nice to have it behind me at the same time. Luke McGrath finished his degree there during the summer and he's like a new man!"

With his accountancy exam done he'll be able to switch back to Montpellier preparations.

"They were unlucky last weekend. I mean it took a kick in injury time to pull it away from them so they could be coming into this game with far more than a losing bonus point. And playing at home, they've been very good this season. Only one loss all year to Clermont and since then they've won five from six in the Top 14 so they are hitting form at just the right time.

"You talk about that as you get ready for the season. Treating the season in different blocks and I think they have gone about their business really well."

Both teams also have a winning habit. Something has to give.

"We're happy with where we are at. I think having that time together for pre-season, more time with Leo and the coaches, Sir Graham Henry coming in, Charlie Higgins in, now Stuart Lancaster in. It has all contributed to a really good vibe to the place.

"But we are still short of where we want to be. Montpellier have the best defensive record in the Top 14 so if we don't hit somewhere near peak performance, it won't be good enough. So yeah, something has to give on Sunday but hopefully we can come out the right side of the result."


After that there is the small matter of an interpro against Connacht and then the Autumn Internationals potentially with Ireland. Two games under his belt with Robbie Henshaw in blue, is it a combination he'd like to see in green?

"I've certainly enjoyed playing with Robbie, but also with Noel (Reid) I think we have gone well together. All I can really control is the next 80 minutes and that's this Sunday.

"Whatever Leo decides after that I will go with. If I'm not looking after those basics for Leinster, Ireland isn't even in the picture. So I think it's all about Sunday now and we'll take it from there. But I'm enjoying my rugby and hopefully we can continue to grow as a team in both competitions"

One day at a time. One game at a time. And enjoying it as you go. If ever there was a week that reinforced the above, it was the week that was.

Irish Independent

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