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Rhapsody In Blue
With another Heineken Cup added to his list of rugby honours, Leinster and Ireland wing forward Jamie Heaslip tells Craig Fitzpatrick that he has little time to reflect on success – but plenty to prank team-mate Cian Healy.
Craig Fitzpatrick, 18 Jun 2012
It’s four days since Irish rugby invaded London and a titanic Heineken Cup final that saw Leinster prevail over Ulster in Twickenham. Back on home soil, Jamie Heaslip, a man who wore the blue of the victors, still looks like the cat who got the cream. There’s a broad smile in his blue eyes when I meet him today in the bowels of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium.
“We’re enjoying life as champions again,” says the affable number eight. “The lads enjoyed themselves afterwards. I think it’s always important to celebrate the wins after you’ve put the work in. It’s nine or ten months work and, to come out of it like that, we deserve to celebrate. Plus we had an extra day off to recover from whatever ‘that’ was!’”
The grin grows, but he checks himself. There’s the small matter of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 final on Sunday to think about (a game Leinster would lose to the Ospreys by a single point).
“As quickly as you get ready for a big game,” he nods, “you have to forget about it and move on to the next thing. You can’t really let yourself daydream. For someone in a ‘normal job’, we’ll say, they might have thoughts like, ‘Aah, I’ve a long weekend coming up, I’ll work hard ‘til then and I can plan for that time off’. We don’t have that. We don’t know if we’re getting time off or not. It’s very week by week. The bad thing about it is that 12 months go by in the bloody blink of an eye! It’s so odd – it only feels like yesterday that I was going out to New Zealand for the World Cup. It flies by.”
Regardless, when the 28-year-old calls it quits years from now, while there will be plenty of memories to cherish, Twickenham will surely be up there among them. It marked Leinster’s third Heineken Cup in four years and led many pundits to claim that this particular side might be the best the competition’s ever seen. As one of the players charged with securing possession, one of the first forwards into a tackle, and one of the biggest voices on the pitch to boot, Heaslip has a pivotal role. Was retaining the trophy (only the second team to do so) even sweeter because it was against Irish opposition?