Healy learns from 'stamping' incident and moves on
"I wouldn't like to repeat it, it was a rough enough letter." - Cian Healy
There is little of the doe-eyed innocent look about Cian Healy. As rugby shapes go, the Irish prop isn’t the player you’d rush to take on in the free for all to establish early physical dominance. But Healy was disappointed when he was charged with stamping on Dan Cole’s leg during Ireland’s first match against England.
What he meant to do, he says, was badly executed by him. But when “dirty” was tagged on to his name, the freight of that pejorative term brought him into a whole new discomfort zone. Insouciant he may be but the irritation was compounded shortly afterwards when the IRFU received a letter addressed to Healy, which they passed on.
Healy opened the letter in camp at Carton House and dipped his toe for the first time into the world of hate mail. It queered his pitch for a while.
He won’t disclose the details because they are vile but the last three weeks of suspension, appeal, a victory of sorts in the courts of the RBS Six Nations, and finally selection this week have been an eye-opener. He has, he says, “parked it”. All of it.
But for those short weeks Healy found himself sitting in the cheap seats, where some people believed they had a duty to turn an error of judgment into an opportunity to roast him on a spit.
“It was bad, I was pretty gutted looking over it because it wouldn’t be how I play,” he says. “It was just a case of not doing what I’m meant to do right and that can result in being off-fire and not being very professional.
“I went to do something and I just didn’t do it correctly so you know, deserved to get sanctioned for it and it is something I’ll move on from now. I back myself to be a hard, physical player, pretty annoying to play against but when people are saying “dirty” to me an all that . . . like I’m thinking back thinking ‘Jesus’. I felt, was pretty taken down a few pegs.”
Healy’s hate mail was as many specimen examples often are, hand-written. It was another career-first. He passed it on to manager Mick Kearney and there the matter – what can you do about an unhinged diatribe? – remains.
“Yeah, I got a pretty violent letter into camp. I read the first line and gave it to Mick and let him dispose of it. I don’t know who it was. There was no name or address.
“It was sent to the IRFU. I wouldn’t like to repeat it. It was a rough enough letter. I shifted that one quick enough because it takes a certain type of person to send a hate mail. Those people don’t really matter to me, I can shift that stuff handy enough.”
There is a touch of irony to the episode. Healy was the victim of a stamping incident in a 2009 Magners League match against Munster. Ireland tighthead John Hayes was red-carded and suspended for the incident but like the letter, there it rests for Healy.
“At the time I wanted to kill him but you’ve got to park that,” he says. “I knew from being around him that wasn’t who he was. So it is easy enough to move on from stuff like that.”
He hasn’t spoken to Cole about the incident because “it would be nice to talk to him in the summer”. The Lions tour is a probability but on the immediate horizon is Catalan prop Nicolas Mas. At under six feet tall, the Frenchman is not so big and like Healy is a terrier more than a mastiff.
“He’s good. He is a tough character and he will work you hard enough. You have to keep going at him. I do find the bigger physical props tough but it is easier to push a smaller fella than a bigger fella.”