“I Know [Leinster] Guys In That Changing Room That Were Selling Tickets To Munster Fans

Turning point.

2006 was a special and important year for Munster Rugby as it was the year they finally proved they could achieve greatness on the grandest stage of them all in – but in hindsight, it might just have been an even more important year for Leinster Rugby.

The eastern province were absolutely battered by Munster in the semi-final of the Heineken Cup and had to watch from at home as their bitter rivals and neighbours were crowned champions of Europe.

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Munster went on to lift a second crown just two years later in 2008 with supporters hopeful of many more to come in the years that followed. But 12 years have since passed and a third title still alludes them.

Leinster, on the other hand, took that defeat in 2006 and vowed to change. They looked themselves up and down and realised that a team of individuals would never succeed in Europe. In 2018 they became European champions for a record-equalling fourth time. Talk about revolutions.

Looking back on that faithful day in 2006, former Leinster and Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip said he remembers teammates in the dressing room selling their tickets to Munster fans for the Landsdown Road clash, such was the sheer “lack of pride” and faith in the tea.

“That week [in 2006] I know guys in that changing room that were selling tickets to Munster fans,” Heaslip said on the Up & Under Podcast.

“Such was the lack of pride in what Leinster stood about.

“You had people from Leinster wearing Munster jerseys to games. Some of my mates from Naas support Munster. And that really hurt me. It really, really hurt me.

“And I don’t blame them by the way, because the team up until that point hadn’t really given them a whole lot to be proud about. They’d been a group of individuals. They hadn’t been a group, a team.

Heaslip credits former boss Micheal Cheika for helping transform Leinster into European champions in 2009 by essential clearing house and getting rid of “silos of people” that simply needed to go if the province was to be successful.

“And that’s what [Michael] Cheika did really well – he cleared house. He got rid of these different silos of people,” Heaslip added.

“But running out onto the field in 2006, I’d say 75-80% of the crowd is red. [I was just] depressed.

“And then it was a really good game, it broke wide open but I’ll never forget ROG jumping the barrier into the crowd. It just killed me! Killed me.

“But I think for everyone involved in the Leinster organisation it was a turning point.”

You can listen to Heaslip’s full chat on this week’s episode of the Up & Under Podcast as recalls the “weirdest” thing that’s ever happened to him on a rugby pitch and looks ahead to this weekend’s mouth-watering clash between Leinster and Munster at the Aviva.

It’s available on Spotify, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Overcast and more.