Jacob Stockdale has spoken out about the online abuse he was subjected to after he botched a try in Ulster’s Champions Cup quarter-final against Leinster in 2019.
Ulster and Stockdale narrowly lost out to Leinster at the Aviva Stadium after a superb performance from the northern province, in a year that Leinster ultimately went on to reach the Heineken Champions Cup final.
Stockdale looked to have stretched Ulster’s lead to seven points early on in the second half after making a brilliant break in which he evaded several attempted tackles, but he was found to have dropped the ball over the line by the TMO.
The 25-year-old was speaking to the BBC about that missed opportunity and revealed that he had to deal with plenty of backlash online in the aftermath.
Jacob Stockdale on online abuse.
“It’s funny, when something bad happens you hear people go ‘I’m glad it happened to me’, I’m not to be honest. I would have liked to have scored that try and pushed us on into the semi-finals,” Stockdale said.
“That being said the amount of resilience I learned coming out of that was massive for me, in terms of dealing with trolls, upset and being able to bounce back whenever you don’t feel that confident.
“A couple of days after the game were really tough for me. There were pages of ‘we hate Jacob Stockdale’, all the usual stuff to be honest, but it was just something that I have to learn to deal with.
“Boys still take the mick out of me for it. Stuart McCloskey tried to teach me how to set the ball over the line, and that’s good, that’s what good team-mates are for.”
— BBC SPORT NI (@BBCSPORTNI) October 8, 2021
The Ulsterman will hope to rediscover his best form for Ireland.
Stockdale experienced a dream start to his international career back in 2017, scoring tries against the USA, South Africa and Argentina, before topping the try scoring charts in the 2018 Six Nations with seven in five matches.
His impressive form continued into the autumn internationals that year, as he scored Ireland’s only try in their famous win against New Zealand. Stockdale, however, has struggled to reach those heights since.
The Ulster winger struggled with injuries last season, and ultimately played in just one of Ireland’s Six Nations matches, and also missed out on the British and Irish Lions‘ tour to South Africa.
At 25, Stockdale has plenty of time re-establish himself on the international stage, and has shown he is also well able to play at full back in test rugby, having played there for Ireland in last year’s Autumn Nations Cup.