Rugby World


JAMES RYAN has had a charmed existence as a professional rugby player, a trophy-laden two years that have seen him become a European champion with Leinster, a Grand Slam winner with Ireland and the recipient of so many other awards that you fear for the stability of the shelving system in his place in Dublin.

He’d done all of that by the age of 22. He’s now 23 and has seen a little more of life in the game of late, some new exposure to its crueller realities. Though he was exceptional in Ireland’s 2019 Six Nations campaign – he was second only to Billy Vunipola in terms of carries, despite playing just four games, and swept the boards at the Irish Rugby Players Awards – the team slumped into a hole they never emerged from. From Six Nations to World Cup, things slowly unravelled as the Joe Schmidt era ground to the most anticlimactic end.

Most Ireland players don’t want to revisit Japan. Many have

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