Speaking ahead of his side’s latest Ulster Bank League final appearance at the Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne out-half Scott Deasy was eager to outline the importance of the club game in Ireland.
During a four-year spell with Munster between 2009 and 2013, Scott Deasy was capped 37 times and scored 36 points for his native province. However, instead of seeking another professional contract, the Crosshaven man joined forces with Mike Ruddock’s newly-crowned Ulster Bank League champions five years ago.
Deasy went on to play an instrumental role in Lansdowne’s most recent league title success in 2015, which has helped him to appreciate the ‘histories and traditions’ that amateur rugby has to offer.
“I think the club game is massively important to Irish rugby. I’m quite interested in history and I think the tradition of the likes of Cork Con and Lansdowne, and some of the other big clubs, is very interesting. I’d like to contribute to that and keep myself up-to-date on what the histories and traditions are,” he admitted.
“But I think it is quite difficult when you’re so focused on being a professional and that’s taken away from you, to balance that with your own personal enjoyment. Will you get the same personal fulfilment out of just playing amateur-wise?
“That’s probably the other explanation as to why it took me five or six months to get used to it. But I’m now delighted I kept it up and I’m really, really enjoying my rugby at the moment.”
Before experiencing the high of winning a league decider against Clontarf three years ago, Deasy also suffered heartbreak while playing for Cork Constitution in 2011. Thanks to a brace of tries from winger John Kennedy, Old Belvedere defeated a Cork Con outfit that featured Deasy, Simon Zebo, Billy Holland and a replacement flanker named Peter O’Mahony.
The Leesiders will enter Sunday’s decider hell-bent on defending the league crown they snatched away from previous holders Clontarf twelve months ago. With many of the same traits that were prevalent during his time at Temple Hill remaining intact, Deasy is under no illusions about the task awaiting Lansdowne.
“The same as what Con always bring (is what I’d expect). I played there for a few years as well. A very organised set piece. A very organised defence. A very strong pressure game. They limit their mistakes and they limit the opportunities they give the opposition.
“I suppose they bring what we don’t have at the moment, they bring that little bit of experience in terms of cup finals. They’ve won five Munster Cup finals, five Bateman Cup finals and they’ve been in the AIL final for the last three years now.
“But we’re on a journey. Last year we got to the play-off stages of the league after doing quite well in the regular season, but we didn’t have that tactical nous to see it through. Whereas this year we’ve probably evolved a bit, and grown a bit, and that came to fruition in the Bateman Cup final. Hopefully we’ll see what we can do this week against a very strong Con team.”
Although Deasy is no longer involved in professional rugby, Lansdowne having former Grand Slam-winning Wales supremo Ruddock spearheading a first-rate management team means that the players’ every need is fully catered for.
“It’s brilliant in terms of what the club provides for us. We have Mike and Mark McHugh too, who are two highly-established coaches. We have a nutritionist available to us if needs be. We have an S&C coach. We have a director of rugby and chairman of rugby who look after things behind the scenes. We’ve got food provided for us on a Thursday night after training.
“So all of those things take away a lot of the worry or the hassle, or the thinking, from the player. We can just turn up on Tuesday and Thursday nights, do our training and then if we’ve got to do gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, there’s that option as well.”
While the upcoming Champions Cup and PRO14 finals are high on rugby followers’ agendas, tomorrow’s encounter is a great showcase for the club scene. Deasy acknowledges that the league in cyclical but believes the domestic game is in a healthy state at the moment.
“In some generations, really good Academy players are coming through and they peak and then move onto the professional game. The league maybe cycles down for a season or two, and then the next wave of Academy lads come through and it comes back up again.
“I think at the moment we’re probably riding that crest of a wave. I think the stats in the last few years show that the average tries per game have gone up. The amount of total points teams have scored has gone up. The kicking accuracy has gone up massively,” added the 29-year-old, who is Division 1A’s top points scorer this season with 205 points.
Ulster Bank League final tickets are available from ticketmaster.ie and Ticketmaster outlets nationwide, priced at €;10 for adults. Under-18 tickets are free with an adult ticket. We encourage you to purchase tickets in advance of the match to avoid problems or queues on the day of the game.
Purchasers can avail of the TicketFast facility, allowing them to print their own tickets at home or work. TicketFast must be pre-printed – they cannot be scanned directly from a phone.
A Ticketmaster kiosk will be on located on Lansdowne Road outside the stadium for on-the-day sales. All entry to the stadium is through the gates on Lansdowne Road opposite the Elverys store. Any request for disabled access tickets should be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.