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Dublin: 2 °C Tuesday 22 January, 2019

'Winning with your country is a rarer thing' - Mike Ross revels in Ireland success

The tighthead prop shared a respectful post-match moment with direct opponent Thomas Domingo at the Stade de France.

Ross lines up for the anthems on Saturday.
Ross lines up for the anthems on Saturday.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

THERE IS SOMETHING special about the front row union.

Those grizzled props and hookers are distinct from other forwards in both appearance and visibility. Much of their finest work is left unnoticed in the whirlwind tempo of international rugby, but they know their true value.

And the value of their direct opponents. Ireland’s tighthead prop Mike Ross came out on top of his individual duel with France’s Thomas Domingo on Saturday night, but that didn’t stop the pair from sharing a digestif after their battle at the Stade de France.

“I went in for a beer with him in the changing room afterwards because we’ve played each other numerous times over the past four years and gotten to know each other quite well. He’s a good lad.

He’s pretty disconsolate, but that’s the way it goes. Today it’s someone else suffering, tomorrow it could be me.”

Ross is humble enough to realise that the ‘fine margins’ of Test match rugby extend to each and every scrum. The Leinster front row admits that the penalties that Steve Walsh awarded against Domingo in the 11th and 39th minutes could easily have gone the other way.

Ireland have been at pains to paint favourable pictures to referees during the 2014 Six Nations, something that helped at scrum time against the French.

“To be fair, a couple of those penalties could have gone either way, but I think the fact that we had some good scrums early on gave us the rub of the green with those decisions.”

Mike Ross pops out of a scrum In the thick of it; Ross and the Irish scrum did well in Paris. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland’s scrum held firm while Ross was on the pitch, ultimately proving one of the many cogs in their victory. The 34-year-old has tasted failure many times in his 39-cap international career too, including 2013’s Six Nations campaign.

What has changed so much in just a year?

“I think we have always had the personnel but last year we were riddled with injuries. I think when we lost to Italy, we’d four backs go down in 20 minutes. That was always going to be difficult to recover from.

This year, Seanie O’Brien is a big loss but Chris Henry has come into his shoes and played brilliantly. He has a different type of game to Seanie, but he’s equally effective.”

Men like Henry, Andrew Trimble, Dave Kearney and Devin Toner have been instrumental to the success, as has Ross. They are less heralded players than the likes of Brian O’Driscoll and Paul O’Connell, but their contributions are key.

Having enjoyed much triumph with Leinster in recent years, Ross is thrilled to have that ball rolling with Ireland too. He says victory in green is that little bit sweeter than with his province.

“It’s just that extra step up, it means that little bit more. You’re playing for your entire country. It’s brilliant winning with your province, but winning with your country is a rarer thing. It certainly has been for this group of lads.

“For many of us, it’s our first time getting any silverware with Ireland and it’s very special.”

Devin Toner enjoying ‘cool feeling’ after Ireland’s pack power to Six Nations success

O’Driscoll thankful to sign off on his terms and as part of a great team

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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