Donnacha Ryan On His Hilarious Struggles With French

“I speak French like a Spanish cow!”

Former Munster lock Donnacha Ryan has settled quite well into the Racing 92 team since making his debut last year. But off the field has been a bit of a struggle for the Tipperary man.

Ryan arrived in Paris last year with not a word of French, carrying some injury problems. Turns out being injured in France, unable to speak a word of their language, creates a few issues.

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Speaking to Off the Ball last night, Ryan says things were very difficult when he first arrived, given the language barrier.

I speak French like a Spanish cow! I really had no French going over at the beginning at the start it was very difficult. We have two classes a week at the club, I’m studying with the Tongan and Samoan lad. I do my own Paris class on a Thursday.

In terms of the injury he was carrying, the difficulty he had with trying to get it sorted, spurred him on to learn French.

I had a cracked vertebra and a hernia so I ended up having to get a neck fusion so basically had to get an operation in Bordeaux and the nurse there didn’t speak any English so the first question was ‘es-tu célibataire?’ are you single? I said ‘no, ja’i un copain.’ That means I have a boyfriend as opposed to ‘la copine’ so then I was like no, j’adore femme!

The next day she came in and says Comment allez-vous? so I was like ‘Je suis tres chou’ because I thought that meant I am very hot because I was warm but it actually meant something else! So, this 60-year-old nurse was like who the hell is this guy. I then learned the difference between cou and queue, cou is your neck, queue is the opposite end of your anatomy!

There was a calamity of things that spurred me on to start learning French.