Donnacha Ryan is feeling the love with girlfriend and baby in Paris

Rugby player Donnacha Ryan says low-fat chicken is the perfect fuel for training.

Donnacha Ryan tells Esther McCarthy about his move to the city of romance

He’s played top-level rugby for Ireland and Munster — but the latest chapter in Donnacha Ryan’s career has meant a move to the city of romance.

The Co Tipperary man has been playing for French club Racing 92 for the past 18 months — and he’s fallen in love with the city of Paris. He and his girlfriend have another cause to celebrate, having welcomed baby Remi into the world 10 months ago.

“I’m in Paris over a year and a half. It was difficult with the language at the start. I didn’t speak French before I came here and I didn’t do French at school,” he says.

“It was a bit tricky at the start. You’re trying to organise electricity, telephone, internet through French. But it was really exciting, a really good change.

“I suppose the novelty was where I live is three or four minutes from the train station. I hop on a train and in 20 minutes I’m in Notre Dame or walking around the middle of Paris.”

He has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of immersing himself in a new culture.

“It’s great, the lads are very helpful. I do two French classes a week and one at home with my girlfriend and daughter. I’ve had positive

experiences. Parisian people for the most part are very nice.

I live in an area near Parc De Sceaux. Ronan O’Gara picked us up and brought us here, and I fell in love with it straight away.

“My girlfriend Jennifer moved over with me and we had a baby girl over here. She’s 10 months old now. Her name is Remi.”

Donnacha Ryan is supporting the Bord Bia Chicken Make it Your Way Campaign.

What shape are you in?

I’m in good shape. Jen and I came over here for rugby but for the life experience as well. We don’t know how long we’re going to be here but we’re going to have as many good experiences as we can. I like to start the day off with a good breakfast before training. I keep hydrated in the morning and then I keep topping up. As an athlete I eat chicken, it has very little fat on it, zero carbs, various nutrients and high protein, which is perfect fuel for me to train.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

I’d have three or four poached eggs in the morning with three pieces of bacon or salmon. I’d have a bowl of porridge with that and I might have a protein shake.

What are your guiltiest pleasures?

I wouldn’t have been a big bread eater before I came to Paris. Now I have a baguette nearly every day. And croissants almond are very nice over here. On a nice day, I’d have one of those as a treat. I like a good glass of red wine as well.

What keeps you awake at night?

I used to be a worrier. I used to think during the week about pressures. I have to say, since I’ve had a kid I sleep like a baby. The only thing that would keep me awake at night would be the curtains being open.

How do you relax?

I do like to keep busy in areas other than rugby. At the moment, it’s playing with my daughter, hanging out with Jen, or going for a wander around Paris. I will do a bit of mindfulness the day of a game. It’s a good skill to have, to be present in the moment. Sometimes it’s a difficult thing not to think of anything.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

All my friends from college and from home, and my family as well. In our lifestyle we’re gone every weekend, and during the week it’s pretty full on from a training point of view.

What’s your favourite smell?

I’ve a broken nose so smell is quite difficult. But I love the smell of the sea, freshly cut grass, and baking.

What would you like to change about your appearance?

It’s on my to-do list when I retire. My nose, so I can smell properly.

When is the last time you cried?

I honestly don’t know. Probably at a funeral.

What traits do you least like in others?

Lazy people. I find they complain and it’s always someone else’s problem.

What traits do you least like about yourself?

I’d probably swear a bit more than I’d like. Now that I have a daughter I’m trying to stop myself.

Do you pray?

I’d go to mass when I can. There’s a nice church in the Irish district of Paris and it’s really good, a great sense of community. But it can be difficult with games and stuff. We travel all the time.

What would cheer up your day?

Going home and seeing the two girls there.

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