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McFadden Reflects On ‘A Really Memorable Day’

McFadden Reflects On ‘A Really Memorable Day’

Fergus McFadden’s desire to play international rugby on a regular basis was encapsulated by his last-minute try against Canada. The game was well won but Ireland wanted a sixth and final try and the in-form winger was only too happy to deliver, taking Paul Marshall’s pass off a scrum and handing off Sean White to crash over in the left corner.

Try hat-tricks in Test matches are very precious things, Fergus McFadden only has to ask his Leinster team-mate Brian O’Driscoll – the scorer of that famous hat-trick in Paris 13 years ago.

McFadden’s hat-trick haul against Canada sees him join a select band of players who have scored three or more tries in a senior international match for Ireland:

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Brian Robinson 4 tries v Zimbabwe, Lansdowne Road, October 6, 1991 (1991 Rugby World Cup Pool 2)
Keith Wood 4 tries v USA, Lansdowne Road, October 2, 1999 (1999 Rugby World Cup Pool E)
Denis Hickie 4 tries v Italy, Thomond Park, August 30, 2003 (2003 Rugby World Cup warm-up match)

Robert Montgomery 3 tries v Wales, Upper Park, Birkenhead, March 12, 1887 (1887 Home Nations Championship)
Joseph Quinn 3 tries v France, the Mardyke, March 24, 1913 (1913 Five Nations Championship)
Eugene Davy 3 tries v Scotland, Murrayfield, February 22, 1930 (1930 Five Nations Championship)
Seamus Byrne 3 tries v Scotland, Murrayfield, February 28, 1953 (1953 Five Nations Championship)
Keith Crossan 3 tries v Romania, Lansdowne Road, November 1, 1986 (Autumn Test match)
Brendan Mullin 3 tries v Tonga, Ballymore Stadium, Brisbane, June 3, 1987 (1987 Rugby World Cup Pool 2)
Matt Mostyn 3 tries v Argentina, Lansdowne Road, August 28, 1999 (1999 Rugby World Cup warm-up match)
Brian O’Driscoll 3 tries v France, Stade de France, March 19, 2000 (2000 Six Nations Championship)
Mike Mullins 3 tries v USA, Manchester, New Hampshire, June 10, 2000 (Summer tour Test match)
Denis Hickie 3 tries v Japan, Lansdowne Road, November 11, 2000 (Autumn Test match)
Rob Henderson 3 tries v Italy, Stadio Flaminio, February 3, 2001 (2001 Six Nations Championship)
Brian O’Driscoll 3 tries v Scotland, Lansdowne Road, March 2, 2002 (2002 Six Nations Championship)
Kevin Maggs 3 tries v Fiji, Lansdowne Road, November 17, 2002 (Autumn Test match)
Fergus McFadden 3 tries v Canada, BMO Stadium, Toronto, June 15, 2013 (Summer tour Test match)

The Kildare native will certainly remember his 19th Ireland cap and the hope is that his eye-catching display can lead to a more regular run in the team now that a familiar face – his Leinster head coach Joe Schmidt – is taking the national reins.

“I feel like I’ve come on a lot. Under Joe this season I really broke into the Leinster team when everyone was fit on the big days,” said McFadden.

“I’ve learned a lot under Joe so hopefully I can put myself in the shop window for the November internationals.”

He was used twice as a replacement during last November’s GUINNESS Series and a 63-minute stint against France was his only appearance of the Six Nations.

So getting back-to-back starts and three tries on the North America tour was an ideal marker for McFadden to lay down ahead of Schmidt’s opening run of matches against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

“We said that going out before the game (against Canada), whoever had the jersey it would be their last performance until November and we tried to put our hands up for the coaches.

“We probably got off to a slowish start. When Canada come out of the blocks they’re very physical. It probably took us until the 55th or 60th minute to break them down and get a few scores.

“From a team point of view, I think we improved massively from last week (the 15-12 win over the USA). And personally, to score three tries for your country made it a really memorable day for me.”

McFadden collected an Ian Madigan chip over the top in the build-up to Andrew Trimble’s opening try against Canada, and the Old Belvedere clubman gave himself an early birthday present – he turns 27 today – by running in Ireland’s second try before the break.

He touched down twice during a second half that saw the Les Kiss-coached Ireland side find an extra gear or two as they scored 28 points without reply.

Pleased to finish the tour on a high, McFadden admitted: “Last week in Houston was our first day out together and it probably took a couple of weeks to gel properly.

“We wanted to get two wins and wanted it to be a tour to remember. I think after the first game, we were a small bit frustrated. But after that performance, I feel like it’s a tour to remember.

“We were missing nine or 10 Irish starters and it shows the strength in depth so it’s great. We’re all delighted to finish on a great note.”

Interim head coach Les Kiss knows that there is always room for improvement, but he was delighted to see his inexperienced squad cut loose against Canada and transfer their hard work in training into a Test match setting.

“Three weeks ago we committed to getting over here and doing a job and making the most of the opportunity. I think they’ve done more than that,” explained Kiss, who will be part of Schmidt’s management team.

“We have worked very hard on their leadership skills, their decision-making skills and their understanding of what is required in the tough moments and to find a way to have an appetite for what is required in Test rugby.

“You don’t just walk in, it is a mentality and a mindset and we found out that a lot of them are up for it, for sure.”

Kiss used the lineout as an example of the lessons learnt from the tight victory over America, praising giant lock Devin Toner for his contribution after he recovered from the stomach bug that hit the camp earlier in the week.

“Look at the lineout, for Devin Toner to run a lineout in two Test matches the way he did – and, despite the troubles last week, this week he has done the work nicely – even though he was one of the guys who got crook he managed it beautifully. He did a fantastic job and Gert (Smal) is really proud of him.”

When the coaches sit down and review the summer tour at the end of what Kiss termed ‘a tough year’, the positives column will stack up nicely.

Two Test wins on foreign soil, six tries scored and one conceded, six new caps (including two Under-20 players), two starts for Ian Madigan at out-half, two first-time try scorers in Darren Cave and Tommy O’Donnell and a young captain (Peter O’Mahony) who led his troops in typically dynamic style.