Eoin Reddan regrets not marking farewell with a series win
But veteran scrumhalf will take many memories with him from a great career
Eoin Reddan in action against South Africa in his final appearance for Ireland during the third Test at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
As Joe Schmidt noted, you don’t always get the fairytale ending. That’s sport. That’s life. Well, unless you’re Brian O’Driscoll, Dan Carter or Richie McCaw anyway.
But whereas Eoin Reddan may have slipped away relatively quietly into the night, somehow you always felt that he would sign off with a daring flourish anyway. That’s how he’s always tried to play.
And so, with his very first involvement, little Reddser – of all people – poached for the penalty with which Paddy Jackson brought Ireland back to within a converted try of a famous win. Speeding up the tempo as he does with his sharpness to the breakdown and quick pass, there were dummies and darts, one of them augmented by an outrageous little one-handed, under-arm offload to Jack McGrath. No fear. If only he’d dummied through and scored, for the conversion to seal a one-point win. Over and out.
Instead, the last game of his career left Reddan feeling anti-climactic or, as he put it “probably a bit flat, really. It would have been an incredible finish. We did well to get back in the game. I suppose they hung on in there, maybe won the game there, with that last ruck of the game – hard to tell whether a guy stopped the ball from coming out. We could have gone on and won it from there”.
“It would have been nice; would have been great. It’s good to get back into position. I’ve often been in games where we haven’t managed that and I think if you do that five or six times out of 10 you win those games, but today they held out and fair play to them.”
Reddser didn’t get the win, but he did get the farewell tour. “I’m very lucky that I got these three weeks with the guys, some of whom I hadn’t known , some who turned out to be great friends. Even Ultan Dillane, who I didn’t know three weeks ago. A 35-year-old guy has a friend for life with a 20-year-old secondrow – bizarre!” he said, smiling and shaking his head in mild astonishment.
“But it was just that kind of tour. It was brilliant. Look at the players we have now. A bit of bravery, a bit of dreaming maybe in the summer will do them all good if they aim high enough. There’s no stopping them.”
He’d been relaxed in his own decision to retire a few weeks ago, although following the formal announcement on Thursday, and the reaction to it and the tributes, he was a little surprised by how the end to his last week affected him.
“Yeah, things seem to hit me a bit later. My brother Cian flew in from New York and surprised me, it was quite emotional. My dad [Tom] was here last night as well. We went for dinner last night. It was lovely – really enjoyed that. Normally things sink in with me a bit late so I was a little bit emotional today but it was business as usual for the week. Really, really wanted to try and win the game. In the last 15 minutes I was trying to stay in every second, make sure every second counted and nearly got there. It would have been great but it wasn’t to be.”
The decision to retire had been prompted by the opportunity to go into aircraft leasing, but it was still “a tough call” said Reddan. “It’s a bit like when I started to play rugby. I’m motivated to do really well at it, it’s intriguing.”
He regrets leaving Leo Cullen at Leinster. “I’m very conscious of the journey that Leo is on and I really enjoyed working with him last year. I think he’s an incredible coach and an incredible guy and in some ways, I felt like I was letting him down a little bit.”
“At the same time, being given this opportunity, I mightn’t have been able to contribute with that on the horizon or in the back of my head. I’m not sure I would have been able to commit to the team the way I would have wanted to.
He leaves us with the feeling that he still had more to give. But that’s exactly how he wanted to go. Memories, he’ll have a few and he left plenty.