Jacob Stockdale talks frankly about botched try as he looks to move on
Ireland winger says support he received makes the costly error easier to live with
Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale on his botched try: ‘It’s a mistake I’ll probably play over in my head thousands and thousands of times.’ Photograph: Craig Watson/Inpho
Not only did he issue an apology on social media after embarrassingly losing control of the ball when attempting to touch it down one-handed over the Leinster line in what was a momentum-shifting moment in the game, early in the second half, but the Ireland winger has now also spoken with candour and clarity about the incident.
“It’s a mistake I’ll probably play over in my head thousands and thousands of times,” admitted Stockdale yesterday.
“Yeah, it was a really hard one to take but the one thing that made it easier was the support I got. That’s probably one thing I learnt from it, was how good the fans are.
“I put up the Instagram post just to say sorry and the comments and the support was incredible and overwhelming,” added the Ulster man who turned 23 just four days after his high-profile error.
He decided to post his Instagram apology because as he explained: “I made a mistake, a pretty big mistake at that, and I know everyone has said to me, ‘that’s not true’, but I feel it cost us a semi-final place.
“The amount of people who paid money to come and watch us and for them not to come away celebrating a victory because I dropped the ball over the line, I just felt that I had to apologise and I had to accept it was my fault.
“I suppose it was a way of moving on, to say ‘look, I’m sorry and it’ll never happen again’.”
Brian O’Driscoll described the winger’s faux pas as “unforgivable” and Stockdale accepted that the Ireland legend had a point.
“Brian said that and it doesn’t really bother me,” he said. “It probably is somewhat unforgivable to have a mistake like that happen in a game.
“I think his punditry was very fair to be honest.”
And for his next try? Well, he reckons the time has come for a change in style.
“I’ll definitely be diving for the next try, no doubt,” he added.
“I’ve scored maybe five or six tries setting the ball down with one hand for Ireland and there’s never been a single comment on it, which obviously is easy to look at in hindsight and say ‘you should never set the ball down with one hand’.
“But it’s one of those things that once somebody makes a mistake, and unfortunately it was me, it’s highlighted a lot more.”
Ulster will want him back on song at Conference B challengers Edinburgh on Friday evening where a win would at least copper-fasten a finishing position for the Pro14 play-offs and may also see them guaranteed second in the table.
In addition to candour, there has been a touch of humour too in Stockdale’s approach.
It seemed appropriate that he was first on the scene last Friday to speak with Luke Marshall after the Ulster centre had seen the ball knocked from his grasp by Tommy Seymour just as he made ready to dot it down at Scotstoun, though this incident in Ulster’s Pro14 defeat in Glasgow wasn’t quite so pivotal as Stockdale’s error in Dublin.
“Lukey’s was a bit different, in that Tommy Seymour did incredibly well to just kind of poke the ball out as he was going over,” Stockdale recalls.
“Yeah, Lukey was a bit annoyed so I went over and said ‘don’t worry mate, it’s not a quarter-final’.
“He didn’t really seem to take it that well, at first,” Stockdale said with a grin.
Sounds like he might be pretty much over it.