No Cushion for Leinster A as they take on Plymouth Albion

Home team scrumhalf will miss British & Irish Cup clash against holders

 Ruairi Cushion in action for  Plymouth against Leeds Carnegie. “I’d love to forge a career in coaching”, says the scrumhalf. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images.

Ruairi Cushion in action for Plymouth against Leeds Carnegie. “I’d love to forge a career in coaching”, says the scrumhalf. Photograph: Gareth Copley/Getty Images.

 

Ruairi Cushion never saw it coming, the swinging arm that connected with his jaw. He was unconscious before his head bounced off the turf, admitting ruefully, “my first time on Sky Sports and I get knocked out.”

The 31-year old Dubliner had been playing for Plymouth Albion, his home since 2009, against London Scottish last weekend. This Saturday he was due to start at scrumhalf against the province of his birth, when the English club will host the British & Irish Cup defending champions, Leinster A.

There is a silver lining, although it might seem microscopic, when weighed against the opportunity to play, which he no longer can do due to the concussion protocols. At the start of this season, Cushion signed a one-year rolling contract as skills and analysis coach, which would complement a reduced playing role. He’ll be on the sideline at Brickfields.

Plymouth offer

He’s watched a number of Irish players walk in and out the door during that time including current Munster number eight Robin Copeland, Leinster wing and close friend Mick McGrath and others like scrumhalf Paul Rowley, who has moved on to London Welsh and hooker Danny McGregor to Edinburgh.

There is still a decent Irish representation at Albion. As well as Cushion, there is outhalf Declan Cusack (currently injured), flanker Eoghan Grace and centre Ben Woods. During three of his years at Anglesea Road he played under current Leinster assistant coach Richie Murphy, a relationship he was to revisit last April when he sought permission to spend a week watching how Leinster prepare.

He explained: “It was before their final Pro12 league match against Edinburgh at the RDS. I asked Richie could I shadow him for the week and he set it up. Leinster are one of the best sides in Europe so it was a real privilege. I took away many useful things. I knew I was going to be moving from a playing into a more coaching orientated role.”

Familiar faces

“However there will probably be a few familiar faces. In 2008 I went back to St Michael’s to help out with the Junior Cup team, and ended up coaching Cian Kelleher, Cathal Marsh, Ross Molony and Dan Leavy.”

Aside from playing and coaching, Cushion is also taking his finals in physiotherapy later this year, and also has squeezed in successfully completing levels one and two in the English RFU’s coaching structure. He is now accredited to be able to coach a side in the English Championship.

“I’d love to forge a career in coaching and I’d be happy to continue on with the qualifications if I was allowed when returning to Ireland at some point.” He does want to return home but not yet.

There’ll certainly be no conflict of loyalty come Saturday afternoon when Leinster A come calling.

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