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RTÉ Pundits Make Intriguing Point On Hidden Skill James Ryan Needs To Learn As Captain

RTÉ Pundits Make Intriguing Point On Hidden Skill James Ryan Needs To Learn As Captain
Gary Connaughton
By Gary Connaughton
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James Ryan is an incredible leader both on and off the pitch. Whenever he lines out for Leinster or Ireland, it is clear what he brings to the side in terms of his calmness, endeavour, and ability to lead by example.

That leadership also extends away from the field of play. A number of his teammates have spoken about the 26-year old's ability to galvanise a dressing room, with Brian O'Driscoll coming away particularly impressed after a visit to the Irish camp earlier this year.

Ryan has usually been selected to lead Leinster or Ireland when Johnny Sexton has been unavailable, and with the outhalf quickly coming towards the end of his career, he is the leading contender to take on the captaincy with both teams over the next year or so.

However, he still still improve one or two of the more nuanced aspects of being a captain in modern rugby.

RTÉ pundits name captaincy skill James Ryan needs to learn

One of the main duties that a captain fulfils on the pitch is being the line of contact between his team and the referee. The match official will usually only engage the captain on issues during the game.

While being respectful to officials is a must in rugby, there are also things to learn in terms of how they can influenced in some aspects of their decisions. Johnny Sexton is a master of this, constantly being in the referee's ear in an attempt to get his point across.


This is something that James Ryan will need to improve upon if he is to become a captain on a full-time basis.


He was handed the position for Leinster's Champions Cup knockout game against Ulster this evening, with his team dominating the opening half of the game in terms of territory.

However, they only got one try on the board as Ulster managed to stop them from crossing the line on a number of occasions despite prolonged attacks. They often did so by questionable methods, with referee Luke Pearce giving quite a few penalties against them for infringements inside the five-metre line.

In fact, Tom O'Toole alone committed three such offences and it was beggar's belief that he was not given a yellow card as a result.


Some felt that James Ryan should have put more pressure on Pearce to go to the book, something Sexton no doubt would have done were he in the same position.

Speaking on RTÉ, the punditry trio of Fiona Coghlan, Jamie Heaslip, and Stephen Ferris all said that this is an area where Ryan needs to work on moving forward.

Coghlan: Ulster have certainly been dogged and brought that physicality. McFarlane spoke at the start about slowing down the breakdown and that's going to be key.

I think there was a bit of naivety there from James Ryan in not pushing the referee a bit more about the penalties. There was four there in 22-metre zone when Leinster had go forward ball. I think Ulster were very lucky not to have a man down...

Heaslip: I think Leinster have to apply pressure in loads of different ways on Ulster and the referee to get a better return. The amount of penalties that were conceded five metres from the line by Ulster and nothing happens?

James [Ryan] doesn't seem to be applying pressure to the referee either. It looked like Ross Molony was having a chat with him to maybe say it to him as he was coming off the field, but I don't know because I'm not a lip reader.

They definitely have to put pressure on the referee to demand more from him, in terms five metres from the line you can't concede that many penalties on the trot.

Ferris: The thing is that it wasn't a few different players, it was Tom O'Toole on three separate occasions. It was the same player painting the same picture for the referee, offside, offside, offside.

They definitely got away with one. I think if it's Johnny Sexton there (as captain), there would have been a yellow card shown.

This is something that will surely come to James Ryan as he gains more experience as a captain, but it was certainly noticeable in the first half that a bit of probing from him towards the official could have massively helped out his team.

You can be certain that Sexton will be giving him advice on the issue moving forward.

SEE ALSO: Leo Cullen Has Raised A Few Eyebrows With Comments On Johnny Sexton Retirement

leo cullen leinster johnny sexton
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