Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty was feeling just as tense as every other Ireland supporter in the closing minutes of the dramatic victory over France last Saturday.
The former Leinster, Munster and Connacht hooker was capped internationally and while he might be tasked with dissecting rugby matches in his daily gig, he admits that he becomes a fan once again when it's Six Nations time.
“I’m a little bit like you guys when you’re watching the game," Fogarty admitted when asked what he was thinking as Irish outhalf Johnny Sexton got his hands on the ball to score the crucial drop goal. "You start to tighten up when you’re watching, going, “Oh Christ!” And when you saw the ball going back [from Murray to Sexton] you’re like, “oh gee!”, I felt it was too far out. I’m watching it like that, tensing up going, “Christ, how can he get this?!”
"Restropectively looking back, of course he was going to get it. He’s been in that situation before, he’s felt that, he’s practiced it. He’s someone that you have to admire in how he goes about developing his game and how he’s developed the skill sets in his game. He has been there before, he’s done it so looking back on it, it was never in doubt, he’s capable of doing that. And he’s got the temperament and he’s got the competitive edge to be able to deliver those moments.
Fogarty was also keen to praise the grunt up front which helped to create the opportunity for the Leinster man to win the game.
"With the help of a very composed forward pack, there was 41 breakdowns there. The work they do and they highlight their breakdown and their carries and body positions. Two of the rucks were a little bit shaky and I’m sure they’re going to use those to improve on. They’ll see the work-ons they need to make and they do need to make improvements and they will. But it was fantastic.”
The match also marked James Ryan's Six Nations Championship debut and the Leinster lock has come in for high praise for his performance on the night.
Fogarty was delighted to see the 21-year-old acquit himself so well at the Stade de France.
“He was excellent. It’s amazing how he’s gone from the schools player that we’ve seen here to someone in France, making his debut so quickly. He’s physically very, very capable and he’s very ready to play. Mentally he gets himself into the game through his physicality, through his carries, through his scrum, lineout, all the actions and he did that so well early on in the game and you could tell that he wasn’t fazed. Once he’s in the game physically, he’s mentally not fazed at all.
"He went to work and he’s a huge credit to himself, that he’s able to do that. Not everyone can do that. He’s playing tighthead lock as well, to be doing that at his age is incredible. He’s on a road now, he just needs to keep working and he’ll improve, no doubt. But it’s a great start for him and we’re delighted in here to watch him, like his school or his family.”