Thursday, October 08, 2015

TBT - Brendan Grehan on Jamie Heaslip (from Jan 2013)

This week’s dip into the HoR archives for Throwback Thursday features a piece on Jamie Heaslip when he was appointed Irish captain for Ireland’s 2013 campaign.  It wasn’t to be our finest Six Nations it’s true but despite all that has happened since, when trawling through online commentary there still seems to be an undercurrent of the same “bombast” to which Brendan alludes.

Throwback Thursday

I WAS mildly surprised by some of the bombast that surrounded Jamie Heaslip's appointment as Captain of Ireland for the Six Nations. One radio station that should know better really stuck their oar into deep mud, describing O'Driscoll as having been "dropped" as captain.

Eddie O'Sullivan was later talking on another radio station, owned by the same chap, about how it would have been good for O'Driscoll to see out his last Six Nations as captain. Note that I refer to O'Driscoll by his full surname. I love to hear when fellows and rugby femmes start trouting on about "ROG" this "Dorce" and my all-time favourite "Axel". They have a name, use it.

I may be an old romantic and God knows I was getting misty-eyed at Donnybrook when Old Wesley U21 Premier XV beat Greystones 20-14 last Sunday. It was particularly satisfying given that we were savaged by Greystones last October on a balmy Sunday evening in Dr. Hickey Park.  Zack Jungman's try was particularly good.

There can be no room for sentimentality for choosing a captain and in his heart of hearts, O'Driscoll would like to concentrate on his own game.  My dad has always said that O'Driscoll is the greatest Irish player and he is and still is a devotee of Dr.Jackie Kyle.

Getting back to the new incumbent. Heaslip, like his predecessor, lives his life in the glare of the camera and smartphone. He seems to enjoy it and it does rankle some people, not me. Rugby players for all their athletic prowess will never earn the same as their cousins in Association Football and Heaslip is entitled to use his fame to generate as many benjamins as he can.

As it is all about the green, in both senses of the word.  He does seem to ruffle some feathers. Was it his venture into the restaurant business?

Waiting for the 4 bus on O'Connell Street after the Exeter game a few months back, A Leinster fan, flag, jacket, tracksuit bottoms, beanie hat, little cuddly lion toy, Leinster pins, Leinster water bottle and a phone cover, told me "He's never been the same since he opened that restaurant".

Heaslip scored the try that set our 2009 Grand Slam campaign and he is a product of my beloved DUFC, the oldest continuous rugby club in the world.

One would like to think that some of the College Park mud has rubbed off on him. My minute concerns about Heaslip were put to rest by a former international, coach and TV pundit who told me last October that Heaslip is a "free spirit" but he has always wanted to captain Ireland.  I think he will make a great Captain. He will lead from the front, like his predecessor.

There is only one command in the Israeli army: "Follow me".

The DUFC that Heaslip played for and the one I had a minor involvement with are completely different animals. With the advent of professionalism, the University teams had to pull up their socks literally and they have gone down the elite road.

The powers that be in Trinity, UCD and so on will tell you that they have "social" teams. Surely a player of any level should be able to play and wear the colours of their University. Some of my happiest times in Trinity were spent supping on a lemo in the Pav after training as the hockey players wore their bandannas. What is it about hockey that every team, both male and female, must always have a few bandannas in their line-up. It's oh-so rock and roll for possibly the most foreign of all the foreign games.

The sad thing now is that generations of players are being lost to the game. If they are not elite, they can drift through university, possibly without any athletic involvement at all save for working on their guns for their night-club visits.  I believe that all the Dublin clubs and beyond should be targeting the Universities and colleges for players who have fallen through the net.

They probably will have played at schools level so the basics are there already.

Good luck to Leinster tomorrow and to all the Irish teams playing in the Heineken Cup this weekend.

Brendan Grehan is a journalist

facebook: Brendan Grehan

Twitter: @brendanxavier

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Found the picture on a now-defunct (appropriately I suppose) site called Rugby-Pioneers.

Apparently it is a postcard with a photo taken from a match between France and Wales in 1911.


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019