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'Everyone's path is different, I wouldn't do it any other way... it makes me the person I am'

Leinster man Scott Fardy on what drew him to the province and why he enjoys life in Dublin.

SCOTT FARDY WAS in Japan during the World Cup in September but not to take part on the pitch, as many Australian felt should have been the case.

The Leinster man is playing superb rugby at the age of 35 but instead of being reintegrated into the Wallabies set-up – which Aussie rugby rules dictate against as he’s based abroad and only has 39 caps – he was back to visit the city of Kaimashi.

Fardy was there as Uruguay memorably upset Fiji in the shock of the tournament on what was an emotional occasion for the city.

scott-fardy Fardy spent three seasons in Japan. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

He joined the Kaimashi Seawolves as a 24-year-old after being discarded by the Western Force, turning to the second division of Japanese rugby to make a living at a time when he felt that his career in professional rugby was petering out. 

Fardy was in his third season in Kaimashi when the tsunami hit in 2011, killing over 1,000 people.

Perhaps unsurprisingly to those who know him, Fardy rejected an offer from the Australian embassy to be flown out of the aftermath, instead staying to help with the clean-up operation.

Fardy won’t ever forget the destruction caused by the tsunami, though he was fortunate that his accommodation at the time was situated inland. Going back to Kaimashi this year was poignant.

It also reminded Fardy of a time in his career when he felt there was no real way forward, having spent a season with Super Rugby’s Western Force without playing a single game.

Kaimashi seemed like an option to earn some coin before packing it in and turning to the real world, but instead it was the start of Fardy’s path to being a World Cup finalist with the Wallabies and now a Champions Cup and Pro14 winner with Leinster.

“I thought, ‘I’ll play a few seasons in Japan and that’ll be enough for a deposit on a house,’” explains Fardy. “But then in 2012, I got that opportunity to go back to the Brumbies and then a year later I was in the Wallabies. That was pretty whirlwind.

“Everyone’s path is different, which is exciting and I wouldn’t do it any other way. I’ve met so many people along the way in my career and it makes me the person I am today. I’m so lucky to be doing what I have been doing.”

Fardy is a player whose hard-working performances mean he truly earns his living in the game, but that sense of gratitude never escapes him.

leinsters-scott-fardy-talks-to-the-forwards Fardy has been a key figure within Leinster since 2017. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Fronting up physically, particularly at his age, isn’t an easy thing to do but the grizzled Sydney man feels that he’s fortunate to be in this line of work.

“It’s just rugby, so it doesn’t define you as a person. But it’s been a big part of my life obviously and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do this. The amount of people that missed out being able to do a job that I’ve been able to do for this long, it’s massive.

“I’m always really grateful that I got to live the dream I had when I was a kid. I thought for a long time that I wasn’t going to do it and I was able to fulfil the dream of playing for my country, playing professionally, playing now with Leinster. I’m really honoured and grateful.”

Leinster, for their part, are grateful to have Fardy, who joined in 2017 and is contracted until the end of the current season as things stand. 

Living in Ballsbridge with his wife, Penelope Austin, and young son, August, life is good for Fardy in Dublin.

Penelope was a successful songwriter in Australia and has ventured into that field on this side of the world, while also working as a tarot card reader. August is keeping both of them very busy away from their jobs.

“We enjoy it in Ireland,” says Fardy. “I don’t mind the cold weather, we like it. We’re pretty settled here at the moment. It’s just good people, everyone we have met – people are just really open-minded, kind, generous and we’ve really enjoyed our time here.”

In terms of rugby, Fardy is extremely happy too. Back-to-back Pro14 titles and a Champions Cup trophy in 2018 have justified his expectation of what he could be part of in Dublin, a city he had enjoyed visiting several times with the Wallabies.

“I knew it was a great club and a big part of it was coming over and having success in Europe, playing in big games in Europe,” explains Fardy of his initial decision to join Leinster.

scott-fardy The 39-times capped Wallaby enjoys seeing younger players thrive. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

“We were a good fit in that way and I didn’t want to just come over here and play in nothing games. I wanted to be part of those big ones in Europe and I’d seen them from afar, the European Cup.

“The opportunity here is so good. If I was in France or somewhere, I’d be playing 30 or 40 games a year and here you get the opportunity to rest. The medical staff are so underrated in Leinster, they do such a good job. Charlie Higgins [Leinster's head of athletic performance] looks after me really well, the physios do too.”

Much has been made of Fardy’s positive influence on the many young players who continue to shine in Leinster colours, and there are certainly few better senior figures to learn from.

Fardy remains one of the hardest-working players in European rugby, with his work ethic and no-nonsense, dogged physicality complemented by a skill set that means he is comfortable in the wide channels as well. 

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A man with good habits like those Fardy possesses is certainly a fine influence, even if he doesn’t quite see himself in that light.

“I don’t think I do mentor people that much. People say I do… look, I talk about the game a lot with certain guys and I’m sure they’re sick of hearing me talk about it but that’s who I am as a person and always will be. If I see something, I’ll say it.

“But there’s a lot of things that get said within a day, a week, a month or a year and whether that sticks with anyone, you have to wait and see.

“I really enjoy playing the Pro14 games alongside the next crop of players. You’re kind of proud when you see guys like Rónan [Kelleher], Caelan [Doris], and Max [Deegan] coming in to play those big European games because you were there with them playing Pro14 games away in dark places in the winter, so to see them come through is something I’ve found really rewarding, not that I have anything to do with it.”

scott-fardy-celebrates Fardy's decision to move to Leinster has been rewarded with trophies. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Fardy sees Leinster’s strength as being the fact that they produce their own players, developing those young men through into the senior team without overexposing them too early but also giving them a chance to actually play and prove themselves.

It’s then up to the likes of himself, James Lowe, Joe Tomane, and Jamison Gibson-Park to supplement the Leinster natives and offer up a different perspective. 

Fardy points out that it’s been equally eye-opening for him to see how Irish players train, prepare and approach games, ensuring he too has learned new things since joining Leinster.

The fact that there is a world-class coach like Stuart Lancaster driving the rugby side of things is stimulating, although Fardy also has praise for the less-lauded head coach Leo Cullen.

“He is a genuine head coach, he knows every single player within the organisation in detail. He knows all about every other player around the world too, he’d know the third-choice second rower at any club around the world, he’d know it all.

“As a team, Stuart and Leo and the rest of the guys work so well. It’s like a leadership group with the players, we work so well and build off each other’s strengths and weaknesses to get the best thing for the team going forward.”

Whatever about his humble view of the part he plays, there’s little doubt that Fardy has become an integral part of the Leinster jigsaw. 

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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