Copeland enjoying a road less travelled

The Wexford born player could be a part of the Ireland Wolfhounds team to take on the England Saxons on Saturday

Cardiff’s Robin Copeland takes on Exeter’s Ceri Sweeney and Jack Yeandle during the Heineken Cup, Pool Two match at Cardiff Arms Park last weekend.

Cardiff’s Robin Copeland takes on Exeter’s Ceri Sweeney and Jack Yeandle during the Heineken Cup, Pool Two match at Cardiff Arms Park last weekend.

Wed, Jan 22, 2014, 01:00

Robin Copeland is something of a rugby troubadour, a journey that has taken him from the minis at Gorey RFC to Kilkenny College, stopping off at St Mary’s College, Leinster, Plymouth Albion and the Rotherham Titans. For the past two seasons he’s toiled in the colours of the Cardiff Blues.

The 26-year-old has already signposted his next destination by agreeing a two-year contract with Munster. It represents quite a coup for the Irish province. Copeland has been in outstanding form for the Welsh franchise including a brace of man-of-the-match accolades in a frustrating Heineken Cup campaign for the club.

Standing ovation
His recent performance against Toulon in the Stade Felix Mayol was particularly praiseworthy as he provided the focal point in resisting the inevitable. He received a standing ovation from the travelling Cardiff fans as he jogged from the pitch having been issued with a yellow card on 79 minutes in the shadow of his own posts: it represented a last defiant gesture.

Even the home contingent in the stands took a little time out from their victory ritual of tossing newspapers in the air to acknowledge his display with warm applause. It should be noted that the 6ft 5in farmer’s son has made an impression at every staging post, substantiated in something as mundane as the try scoring stats – the most eye catching the 13 tries in 26 appearances for the Titans – he’s amassed since crossing the Irish Sea.

This season he’s broadened his playing remit in being selected at number eight on a regular basis. His decision to accept Munster’s offer was based principally on trying to shoehorn his way into Ireland coach Joe Schmidt’s plans, a little shy of two years from the 2015 World Cup.

It’s already borne fruition as Copeland was called into an extended Ireland squad and should be a strong contender for a place in the Wolfhounds team (announced tomorrow) to take on the England Saxons at Kingsholm on Saturday.

‘Pretty unexpected’
He admitted: “It’s very pleasing to get a look-in. It was pretty unexpected to be honest, I didn’t think I would get a look in until I went and tried to prove myself back home in Ireland. But I am delighted to have the chance.

“It’s just nice to get my foot in the door and give myself something to build on. Hopefully if it goes well there are summer tours and the autumn internationals – and it all leads towards the World Cup. It’s nice to get a bit of recognition but I don’t think my game is fully there yet. “I have only been playing number eight for about 14 or 15 months so I am still learning my trade at eight.”