In a symbolic sense, Ian Madigan's Leinster career seemed to come to an end yesterday. With his contract up at the end of this season, Madigan's future at the RDS has been open to much speculation this winter. Any doubts that he will stay at Leinster seemed sealed in Toulon when despite yet another stuttering performance from Johnny Sexton at outhalf, Madigan remained on the sidelines for 76 minutes.
He was eventually brought on for Luke Fitzgerald with four minutes left and the game decided. It was the most important game of Leinster's season and Madigan must have been watching it slip away from the sidelines and feeling like his future belonged elsewhere.
Leo Cullen offered the following explanation at full-time.
"Unfortunately, just the way the changes were made; Rob (Kearney) was only just back so he came off quite early.
"Isaac (Boss) as well had a bit of a niggle going into the game.
"Unfortunately that left us with Mads as our last back so you are always running the risk, it's quite a fine line when you bring that last person on. Ideally I would have liked to have got Mads on earlier but just the way those other substitutions unfolded, that is just the way it went."
In the second half of the game, there were loud calls on social media for Madigan to be introduced. In fact, during the fourth quarter of the match, with game slipping away from Leinster, social media turned into a grieving forum for Madigan's Leinster career.
Really need Ian Madigan on the pitch. Nigel Owens keen to have maximum impact on this #ChampionsCup tie in Toulon. #COYBIB #TOUvLEIN
— Ronan Quinn (@RonanJQuinn) December 13, 2015
Surely @Ian_madigan must be considered for a starting position. Sextons kicking since his return is just not good enough @OLSCRugby
— Declan Clarke (@dectracker) December 13, 2015
What's more insulting: not playing @Ian_madigan at all (Bath) or only playing him for 4 mins when it's a clear loss (Toulon)? #LeinsterRugby
— Becky Caudill (@casacaudill) December 13, 2015
Too bring on ian madigan with four minutes left is an insult to the player #TOUvLEIN
— Kieran (@Wheelo67) December 13, 2015
@leinsterrugby @Ian_madigan seriously?? 4 mins for madigan?? Disgraceful.
— Aisling Foster (@AislingFoster1) December 13, 2015
This is just a handful of tweets. The pressbox was clearly keeping an eye on Madigan on the sidelines.
Clock ticks past 70 minutes, Ian Madigan is now standing under the posts, watching
— Rúaidhrí O'Connor (@RuaidhriOC) December 13, 2015
Perfect image a few moments ago of Ian Madigan with plane taking off in background. Why stay?
— Brendan Fanning (@BrendanFanning) December 13, 2015
French rugby fans saw an opportunity in Madigan's misery though.
@Ian_madigan You might stay in France few days. Bordeaux Bègles is a great opportunity :) I promise not to stay on bench against Toulon :)))
— mickael ⭐️⭐️ (@bochacamickael) December 13, 2015
Come to @ASMOfficiel @Ian_madigan you get game time
— Jarl Max (@JarlMax11) December 13, 2015
Many doubt Madigan's abilities as a game manager, but his development as an out-half have not been helped by coaches who've continued to use him in different positions. What Madigan does next will be hugely interesting.