With Irish rugby returning last weekend, Darren Cave, Eoin McKeon, Mike Ross and Barry Murphy sat down to watch the games and reflect on their own careers.
As part of the Tackle Your Feelings campaign, former Ireland and Ulster centre Cave and former Connacht back-row McKeon watched the western province’s impressive 26-20 victory over Ulster at the Aviva Stadium.
In an interesting chat, Cave told McKeon about the difficulty in realising that you are no longer “one of the lads” so soon after retirement.
“I don’t know if you’ve had this experience yet, but it’s bizarre that first time that you’re around the group and you’re not in the group. That’s quite funny.
“I remember last year I worked at the stadium, in the Kingspan on matchday. You arrive and the boys are there and they’re the boys. You have a wee moment reminding you that you’re not one of the lads.”
Cave also spoke about Dan Leavy’s serious knee injury which he sustained against Ulster in the Champions Cup quarter-final in 2019.
“Champions Cup quarter-final last year, I was ruck inspecting. I was in the ruck that Dan Leavy got injured in. That was really bad. You know when people say, ‘do you miss rugby?’ That was at the same time that I announced my retirement. The cleanout was…
“That was bad,” McKeon said. He was double-hit but he has the flexibility where he can get into….”
“His knee was so vulnerable,” Cave continued. “It was ugly. I’m really looking forward to seeing him play, hopefully, please God, in the next few weeks because that was really nasty.”
Ross and Murphy sat down to watch Leinster’s narrow 27-25 victory over Munster and the former Ireland prop discussed how one negative comment on social media can have such a big impact.
“Do you ever notice on Twitter, for example, you put a tweet out. You get a 100 positive comments but it’s the one ******. That’s the one you’re thinking about for the rest of the day.”
Ross also spoke about receiving criticism from coaches during his career, including Joe Schmidt, and how if communicated in the correct way, it can have a positive impact.
“The criticism that always worked best with me was, ‘you’re better than that.’ Because it puts it back on you. It’s not saying you’re crap. It’s saying, ‘that wasn’t up to your standards.’
“Nobody likes being told they’re s***.”
Ross said of Schmidt:
“Oh he was ruthless but if he went after you, he had the receipts.”