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Matt Williams: Leinster deserve the ultimate praise

The demons must be slayed. The last five years of European failure must be revenged

I love Bruce Springsteen. “The Boss”, as Springsteen is universally known, has woven his poetry of love, heartbreak, tragedy, joy, sacrifice, justice, resilience, sex, eternity and the never-ending hope of redemption into all the situations of my life and that of my generation.

Like Bruce, and millions around the world, our grandparents were immigrants and could not go to high school. Our parents’ teenage years were melted by the great depression, and yet our generation were the lucky ones. The migrants’ tale of the third generation being special. We were living the dream.

“It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive,” sang Springsteen

In our eyes he was telling the world our story, with all its great joys and sorrows. More importantly, the world was listening.


From the time a school friend handed me a recycled cassette tape with Bruce belting out the immortal words “tramps like us, baby we were born to run”, he had me. At rugby training, ball in hand and water melon split grins on our faces, we would yell those words to each other as if Bruce was singing about the running game.

It was not just Bruce, it was that he looked after his mates. The E Street Band were his brothers. They were a community. The Boss and the E street band were doing it all for us. They were local boys "done good", looking out for each other.

“We said we’d walk together baby come what may.

That come the twilight should we lose our way.

If as we’re walking a hand should slip free,

I’ll wait for you

And should I fall behind,

Wait for me." – Bruce Springsteen

My schoolboys mates and I held Bruce in such esteem we used his name as a personification of the highest levels of perfection known to man. For example, when asked for your opinion on any new music, your answer was “it’s not Springsteen”. Meaning it’s okay, but not top quality.

School dance

It then transcended to other aspects of life. If you played a good game of rugby your mates would compliment you by saying “you had a Bruce of a game”. A positive exam result was termed “you Bruced it”.

Or when at the school dance, the 16-year-old starlet who was rocking your world, despite you being too shy to ask her to dance, so you could only gaze from across that great divide of a dance floor. She would be given the ultimate compliment. “Mate, she is The Boss.”

No higher praise could be given. You were not just “Bruce” or “Springsteen” but “The Boss”.

Leinster deserve the ultimate praise. They are "The Boss".

Leinster are “Brucing it”. The other teams, well, “they just ain’t Springsteen”.

The majority of this Leinster team are born and bred in the province. Leo Cullen, their leader and coach, is one of their own. A Leinster icon to his boot laces.

They are local boys doing good. A unique and valuable quality in professional rugby.

Like Springsteen and his loyal world-wide community, there is a connection between the Leinster team and its people. It’s not like Muster and the Red Army. It’s more subtle. There are no “to the brave and the faithful” statements. That’s just not Leinster.

If it takes a village to raise a child, it has taken the community to develop Leinster as a club. The players and staff are acutely aware of where they came from, and what the team means to their people. Outsiders underestimate the power of this within Leinster. Its not as overt as other provinces, but it is real, and it is deep.

"Blood brothers on a stormy night with a vow to defend. No retreat baby, no surrender." – Bruce Springsteen.

The fortunate ones

This team is the third generation of the professional era, the fortunate ones. Also, the first to have grown from boys to men watching their heroes in blue. They stood by the fences at Donnybrook and on the terraces at Lansdowne Road.

Now at the RDS and the Aviva, these players dreamed of more than just getting their day in a Leinster jersey. They dreamed of holding trophies high above their heads. Of returning to their schools and clubs as examples of success.

“They say “ya gotta stay hungry” . . .

Hey Baby . . . I'm just about starving tonight!" – Bruce Springsteen

This year Leinster have beaten Saracens, the defending European Champions, Montpellier, the leading French Top 14 club, the Scarlets, the Pro 14 champions, and Exeter, the English champions. That record is something very special but that is the past.

Today is a time for hope and redemption. Today these demons must to be slayed.The last five years of European failure must be revenged.

Stuart Lancaster’s World Cup humiliation has to be buried. The doubters of Cullen need to be silenced. He is proving that he is an excellent young coach. This generation of young Leinster players doubting their quality must end.

Beloved Blues

This may be the last chance for Sexton, Kearney, Nacewa, Healy and Toner to win the Champions Cup with their beloved Blues. They deserve victory.

The game in Bilbao has all the ingredients for a raunchy, lung-busting, joyous, sexy Springsteen anthem. Like all great songs by "The Boss", their is always the chance of heartbreak.

Climb in. Its a town full of losers, and I am pulling out of here to win. – Bruce Springsteen

I feel I already know all the words.

Allez les Bleus!