Donnacha Ryan a true giant of a man with post-match comments on Munster
Donnacha Ryan will tell you, to this day, that he never wanted to leave Munster. It broke his heart to do so.
At the beginning of last season, and all the way up until Christmas, Ryan was expecting to be offered a decent, two-year deal by the IRFU that would take up up to the 2019 World Cup.
No phone-calls, no assurances, no white smoke, no hints given. It was allowed linger for too long until Ryan started to think of life after rugby. He probably only had one decent contract offer left so it was let known that he was open to offers and Racing pounced with a good one.
Ryan was reluctant, initially, to leave his home province but he soon settled on finishing his career in Paris and started to get excited about the Racing move. There would be no turning back.
Typically, the Champions Cup draw put Ryan's new club in the same pool as Munster. He faced his old side in Paris, after missing the start of the season with a shoulder/neck complaint, and was pure class.
In the Champions Cup semis, Munster were thrown into his path again. Ryan tossed them aside. He was a bull in Bordeaux and brought a nasty, aul'fight to Munster. He was the architect behind the defensive lineout strategy, too, that saw a Munster strength turn into a weakness.
27-22 but only ever 1 winner. Racing were v good at times but Munster made them look better by underperforming. Fantastic to see Teddy Thomas play so naturally. A special kid with a big heart.D Ryan massive work rate. Chavancy chopped everything.Strange game.
— Ronan O Gara (@RonanOGara10) April 22, 2018
Ryan and Racing will next face Leinster, in Bilbao, with a European Cup at stake. Still, there was time to reflect on a superb win and to pay credit to Munster.
Ryan told BT Sport:
"We put the foot to the floor. A lot of effort went into the first half and we said we'd hang on."
"I'm bitterly disappointed for the lads," he added. "I know how much it means to them."
Having been with Munster from 2004-2017 and having sat on the bench when the province last reached, and won, a final in 2008, that comment comes from the Tipperary native's heart.
"Bitterly disappointed for the lads, I know how much it means to them."
Munster through and through, today's victory will have been bittersweet for Donnacha Ryan 🔴
He'll meet some more familiar faces in the final too. pic.twitter.com/ZmMEwO0b3Q
— Rugby on BT Sport (@btsportrugby) April 22, 2018
A gent, and a giant one at that.