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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 17 January 2021

They taught me about rugby on a Subbuteo table – Donnacha Ryan

The Munster lock recalls his early days on the rugby pitch and bulking up for hurling.

Donnacha Ryan versus all of Saracens.
Donnacha Ryan versus all of Saracens.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

MUNSTER LOCK DONNACHA RYAN has revealed he was ‘too skinny’ to make it onto the Tipperary minor hurling panel.

The Ireland international, in an exclusive interview with Club Rugby Magazine, says his father’s perseverance and nifty driving skills kept his secondary ambitions of playing rugby alive.

During the Six Nations, Ryan told that his number one dream was to play for Ireland and beat England in hurling.

In his magazine interview, the 6ft 6in second-row explains that he missed a bus down for a rugby training session in Cork. His father somehow managed to bundle him into the family car and get him from Nenagh to Cork in 55 minutes. Ryan said:

I only took up rugby to get big for hurling because, at the time, I had aspirations to get onto the Tipperary minor hurling panel; unfortunately I was too skinny.”

The lock, now an established figure in the Munster and Ireland pack, paid credit to former Ireland hooker, and manager, Pat Whelan and Trevor Hogan for guiding him through the early stages of his career.

“They used a Subbuteo table [to teach me tactics] would you believe?” he remarked.

In Ryan’s first club game he took on St Munchin’s and gave away, by his count, at least 10 penalties.

Whelan stood by him, he recalls, and pointed out that young Ryan was the first to the breakdown nearly every time.

“He must have seen something in me at the time,” he said.

The full interview with Donnacha Ryan is featured in Club Rugby magazine (available free next week in the Irish Independent)

Ryan’s shoulder injury, picked up during the Six Nations campaign, has ruled him out of Pro12 action.

He hopes to be in the selection mix for Munster’s Heineken Cup quarter-final against Harlequins next weekend.

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About the author:

Patrick McCarry

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