Sport Leinster Rugby

Tuesday 20 August 2019

'It's the lows that make you want to chase the highs again'

Ringrose seeks to park Saracens defeat as attention turns to Munster derby and winning PRO14, writes Marcus Ó Buachalla

Garry Ringrose puts in a hit on Saracens wing Sean Maitland after Cian Healy makes the initial contact in last Saturday’s final. Photo: Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose puts in a hit on Saracens wing Sean Maitland after Cian Healy makes the initial contact in last Saturday’s final. Photo: Sportsfile

Marcus Ó Buachalla

This isn't a position that anyone wanted to be in, but here they are.

And here he is. Garry Ringrose may be only 24 years of age but in his four years of professional rugby he has had the highs - read Grand Slam winner, Champions Cup winner, PRO14 winner - but also the lows.

And right now he - and more than 56 others at Leinster Rugby - are at a low where nobody wants to be.

"It's sport isn't it? Only two teams can win at the end of any rugby season. One in the PRO14 and one in Europe. But that's the same at any level, in any sport.

"If we all played or took part only to win, there wouldn't be many people still involved in sport. It's those lows that make you want to chase the highs. And it's when you reach a high, you just want it again.

"We are no different this week. It hits you harder because you came so close but there are lots of other teams and players out there that started off in Round 1 with dreams of getting to Newcastle and didn't quite get there for whatever reason.

"For us, there isn't much consolation in getting there. It's about getting the job done and we are pretty hard on ourselves in that regard.

"Things we could have done better. Things we could have done differently. But it's done. It's history. Well done to Saracens. You move on."

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Easy to say. How easy is it to do? How did Sunday play out? For a start it's recovery for the body but maybe just as important is recovery for the mind so it's about time spent with family and friends. Those that you know and trust. That helps the process but eventually the conductor calls all to attention. It's time to face the music and dance.

"Yeah, Sunday was lovely. Good to just get back to see some familiar faces and just spend the day with family and friends.

"It just helped to take my mind off things. But then you have to face it. We had the majority of Monday off from Leinster but we had the review meeting in the afternoon and we went through the game. Bit by bit. Analysed it forensically but then we move on.

"We really do. Of course, it's harder to do that after a loss in a final but feeling sorry for ourselves or stewing on this or on that won't help us get ready for Munster or help us perform against Munster."

So to Munster then. What will the lessons be?

Intense

"I just think when the game is at its most intense with it all on the line it comes down to who executes and delivers in those moments. For us I think we saw the reality of that last weekend in Newcastle. Saracens were unbeaten for a reason. They had the best defence in the Premiership for a reason.

"And now to this week and the same applies to Munster. Best defence in the PRO14 and then they execute their chances when it really matters most. They came through a really tough play-off against Benetton a few weeks ago but when it mattered most JJ Hanrahan kicks that penalty from halfway and they're here now with a shot at a final.

"There is only one game left in both our seasons. Saturday is about earning the right to extend that for another week and we'd love that challenge."

Is that the key to moving on? There is another day to put things right?

"It's part of it. If last Saturday was the final game of our season you have the whole of the summer to think about the what-ifs and the what-nots.

"So it is difficult to move on because to focus on the next game could be two months or three months away.

"But instead we are lucky that we have a chance to put some things right. Will it make up for it? No. But you set out at the start of the season to win two trophies and we still have one of those aims within our reach.

"That is a hugely exciting opportunity. Throw in the fact that we are facing Munster and playing them at home in the RDS, it just makes the whole thing even better."

Last Saturday's result notwithstanding, it is a repeat of course of this time last season when Leinster prevailed by a solitary point a week after the Champions Cup final.

But only for a late Max Deegan intervention it could have been very different.

Deegan has gone on to become Leinster's Young Player of the Year and you feel that with tired limbs and even more tired minds at play on Saturday it could take another massive intervention from one of the younger guns to get them over the line.

"We have said it all year. It's taken 57 players to get us to this point. I think nine players from the academy have made their debuts this season.

"We can't rely on 15 players. We need the full 23 and then the rest of the lads driving us all on this week and making sure that when we do train that we are as prepared as we can be for the challenge on Saturday.

"This game went to the very last play last season. And it will again. They know us and we know them. There is very little to choose between either team. We beat them and they beat us already this season.

"So yeah, hopefully history repeats itself but nothing will come easy on Saturday."

And then the small matter of the supporters and the 18,977 that will cram themselves into every crevice of the RDS.

Anything

"I've never seen anything like the drive to the ground last week in Newcastle and then we got off the bus.

"It was as good as I've witnessed that noise that hit us and then you see them after the game, easily 20 or 30 thousand waving blue flags and still cheering us on.

"We know there will be Munster fans there too but this is the last chance we will get this season to play for those supporters in the RDS and we want to show them what that support means to us with a performance.

"Hopefully it will be a performance to be proud of and after that hopefully it will be enough to get us over the line."

No hiding. No shirking of responsibility. Back on the bike. And ready to go again.

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