Madigan, McFadden and Henry on one game they'd change if they could go back
"You wanted 11 league wins. Not content with 10!"
With everyone else looking towards the Lions selection and future glories, Fergus McFadden, Ian Madigan and Chris Henry took time out for a glance in the rearview mirror.
On the latest House of Rugby Ireland episode [LISTEN from 38:00 below], the trio talked about the past defeats that made them wish time travel was possible.
Fans of Ulster and Leinster will definitely relate to these matches, and distinctly remember some of the big moments that swung them.
MCFADDEN: What is the one game you wish you could get back? Whether it’s something that happened to you, your team, a final or what’s the one game you’d love to get back – to be able to do it all over again?
MADIGAN: Even recently, Toulouse in the Champions Cup, at the start of this season. Obviously the first game in the Champions Cup is just huge, every year at home in The Kingspan. It’s a game that I felt we were on top in, for the majority. Toulouse got a bit of the breaking ball, got three or four opportunities, scored off those opportunities. We had the Lions’ share of possession and it’s just a game where I go – I’d love to have that one back. It just had that feel that if it was played five times, we’d have won four out of the five, but they got us on the day. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re a fantastic side, but that was one that I just felt really unwell [about] after. Like, they’ve robbed us there. And it was a tough one to take.
MCFADDEN: Losing at home to French sides, at Kingspan, is always tough, isn’t it.
HENRY: For me, one of the games I would have loved to get back, to see a different outcome, would be the Saracens quarter final for Ulster, in 2014, when Jared Payne got red-carded. It happened really early in the match. The first four or five minutes, and we had to play with 14 men for most of the game. We only lost the game by about two points and, looking back on it, there was Chris Ashton and I can just remember him doing his dive, scoring.
Jared went up for the ball, in a fair contest, but the Saracens fullback fell, got concussed and had to come off. Looking back, maybe on a different day, it was such a small moment but it had a massive effect on us because it was probably Ulster’s strongest team, in the history of the last few years. That was a game where, if I look back, I’d have just said to Jared, ‘Just take it easy, take it as easy! Don’t go for it!’
MCFADDEN: I remember seeing that [incident] at the time, going, it’s red. And things weren’t as hot, about hitting people in the air. But that one was particularly bad, so early in the game.
One that sticks out for me would probably be – if we could just get it back, and probably replay the second half of the game, more than anything – in 2012, we had played the [European Cup] final against you guys. The following week, we had the final of the PRO12 against the Ospreys. The Ospreys team would have had Alun Wyn Jones, who’s still there, and it would have been a very strong side. You’d the likes of Dan Biggar, Scott Williams and Rhys Webb, when he was playing really well and had broke into the team.
MADIGAN: Shane Williams...
MCFADDEN: Shane Williams scored. We were winning by about seven points and, in the second half, it just unravelled for us. In fairness, in hindsight, we did have a big night together after winning the final the week before. And the emotional energy of trying to get back up for another final, with the fatigue, they just took us to the cleaners in the last 20 minutes. Shane Williams scored two tries. If there was one game I could get back, that would probably be it.
HENRY: I think you could live with that, though. You could probably live with that. Come on!
MCFADDEN: Yeah, yeah.
MADIGAN: I mean, you won a few other things. You’re all right!
MCFADDEN: Human beings are a bit greedy, right!
HENRY: You wanted 11 league wins. Not content with 10!