“I Was Gutted That He Left” – The Real Reason Donnacha Ryan Left Ireland & His Impact At Racing 92

Skin.

When Donnacha Ryan packed his bags for Paris and Racing 92 back in 2017 Munster and Ireland fans were left absolutely devasted.

The towering lock was playing some of his best rugby for both club and country following a horrific few seasons with injury and looked set to be a force for many years to come both in red and green.

A very special British & Irish Lions House of Rugby show – fronted by Sean O'Brien and Alex Goode – is available now and will run for the duration of the tour. Follow and subscribe to it HERE

The move came as a surprise with many blaming Munster and the IRFU for not doing enough to retain one of their prized assets. A 6ft 7in, 18 stone behemoth who would give you absolutely everything no matter what jersey he wore.

But in the end, it wasn’t anybody’s fault he left. Donnacha made the decision to leave in his and his family’s best interest and who are we to judge him?

A few years before that move to Racing he was almost forced into retirement and there was no way Munster and the IRFU were ever going to be able to match the offer on the table from the French giants.

Speaking on the Up & Under Podcast this week, Ryan’s former Ireland teammate Jamie Heaslip said he was “gutted” when the lock decided to move on but completely understood his decision.

“I was gutted that he left,” Heaslip said.

“But knowing him and talking to him he did the right thing for him at that moment in time.”

“He looked at it from the business perspective which is very important and he made the right decision for him for the long-term.

“I think he made the right decision and he’s shown that.”

Heaslip added that Ryan is loved at Racing for what he does both on and off the pitch and is the definition of a consummate professional.

“You talk to anyone in Racing. The organisation really, really likes him and appreciates him for all the work he does behind the scenes which is reflected on the pitch,” Heaslip added.

“And on the pitch [at the weekend] we saw his leadership, we saw him having words with lads, we saw him having little words with Nigel Owens, we saw his commanding presence in terms of his energy. He was running around like a lunatic. He was getting through huge work.

“And his tactical awareness –  especially at the lineout, negating that. He showed a lot of energy.

“Behind the scenes [he’s] and unbelievable pro. It’ always Donnacha who’s doing something – he’s stretching, he’s doing rehab…”