Rugby

Donnacha Ryan Details Struggles To 'Educate' Racing 92 Teammates

Donnacha Ryan Details Struggles To 'Educate' Racing 92 Teammates

The ease of Leinster's victory against Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-final on Sunday did not surprise Donnacha Ryan.

The former Munster second row has been with Racing 92 since the beginning of last season. His side lost to Toulouse in the quarter-final of this year's competition.

During his time in France, Ryan has noticed a lax attitude which contrasts with an urgency he saw within the Irish game.

"The processes you see on the pitch," Ryan told Second Captains this week, "the connection from Johnny to Devin giving the lineout call to the thrower; the speed at which that is done puts massive pressure on the opposition."

It makes it an awful lot easier for Dev to make lineout calls and launch the attack as quickly as possible.

The French teams kind of struggle because they play in the Top 14 where the ball is kicked out and the mentality is to have a bit of a rest. It's the opposite in Ireland. The ball is kicked out and it's, 'Let's get the thing going as quickly as possible.'

Ryan and others - including All Black great Dan Carter - have attempted to change the culture at Racing 92. Their success in doing so has been limited.

"You're trying to educate guys over here in France," said Ryan.

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"In Ireland, we have the Leinster schools, Munster schools competitions but they don't have that here. They're on a [steep] learning curve when they're in the professional game. It puts a lot of onus on the coaching.

"Opinions on how to play the game is another thing that you are trying to get across the board. One thing I've learned anyway is you try to bring in small things rather than an information overload. Dan Carter, as I saw last year, he tried to bring in a lot of things while he was here - if Dan Carter can't get things across the line to make things better, it's very difficult to do.

"I remember watching the Munster and Edinburgh game and one of the French players - I won't name him - he more or less said, 'I would rather lose than play like that'. Just basically exit strategy - it was a pressure game, kind of boring, just grinding out a win. You're like, 'Well, that's cup rugby. Cup rugby can be quite boring but you're winning'.

"You're trying to get that logic into their heads - 'we don't have to play from behind our own goalposts to attack here'. They don't think of the next phase after. It's literally, 'let's score a try immediately'. It's that level of patience and control [with which] we certainly struggle. We try to do these audacious offloads.

"We played Toulouse [in the quarter-final] and we threw three intercepts right in front of the line. You're building pressure, being boring sometimes but that's winning. It's very hard to change a culture like that. You can educate but if that's their culture and that's the way they want to play the game, you can sometimes come up against a brick wall."

Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

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