Rhys Ruddock knows win over Toulouse sends out a statement
Leinster man was excellent in victory but knows there are still plenty of tests to come
Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock wins a lineout during the Champions Cup victory over Toulouse. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
As statements of intent go, Saturday was vintage. Leinster, missing a third of their international players, showed Europe how a winning culture can be cultivated on the training ground without the dizzy financial muscle of some of their competitors.
Rhys Ruddock, who must have run Garry Ringrose close for the man of the match award, epitomised the assurance and tempo Leinster can deliver at their best. It was costly too. Toulouse were offering Leinster no dime-a-dozen scores.
“We hope that performance will send a statement because of how good Toulouse are and how well they showed up,” says Ruddock.
“I think they gave is nothing cheap. We were battering away for phase-after-phase, thinking ‘somethings’ got to give.’
“Credit to them they dug in for everything. We ended up having to throw the ball over the top and find the space that way. It was pretty relentless from them, not letting us get over the line.”
Despite the supernova of confidence the win brings and, no doubt, buckets of gratitude from the line of injured stars who have so much to play for this week, Leinster’s job is not complete.
Wasps may have conceded 50 points in round one at the RDS but for this bloc of matches it is job half done.
“Loads to play for,” says Ruddock. “We will kinda reassess over the coming days and see what’s required and first and foremost look to get a win next week. But we have to have a look and see what way the pool shakes up and what’s available to us and what we need to get out of the game next Saturday.”
Jordan Larmour, James Ryan or Andrew Porter may not remember Leinster’s outing to the Ricoh Arena in 2015. Ruddock does. Leinster lost the first leg in the RDS 6-33 and were then battered 51-10 in the Ricoh. It’s not something the backrow would forget.
“No doubt it will be a tougher game,” says Ruddock. “That’s my lasting memory of going over there. So that was a pretty dark day at the office. They were quality that day and we probably played within ourselves.
“So, yeah, there is definitely lessons to be learned from that and sure it would be no harm to review that game and have a look at what we can expect going to their home patch. Yeah, plenty of lessons.”
Lessons came from all over the pitch. There was one passage of play just after the hour mark, when Toulouse held the ball for 25-plus phases with Leinster defending their line. When the ball was turned over Leinster knew they had achieved more than just possession.
“Yeah,” he says. “It is right up there, those sort of moments. I do remember other European games, a bit like Exeter away in Sandy Park, where they are really strong in that area too. When you’ve got teams who are good at that type of game it’s just a case of everyone staying alive because one metre leads to two metres on the next one, three metres on the next one, so it’s just staying mentally switched on.
“I thought we defended that period well, and that was probably one of the biggest moments in terms of releasing pressure. I think we got a turnover from there and a little bit of relief. It felt like the game wasn’t won but we went a long way to doing that in that moment. It was good.”
Feeling good and playing good but with bad intentions. The only way to go to Wasps really.