Leinster qualified for their 11th European Cup semi-final just 36 hours earlier, but a “bizarre mood” hung over the province’s HQ on Monday morning.
The news that Dan Leavy, Leinster’s flanker, was so badly injured that he has been ruled out of the World Cup, overshadowed Saturday’s win over Ulster.
That tournament is almost six months away, but such is the “complex knee ligament” injury that Leavy was immediately told he would miss the entire tournament.
“I was over in his house on Sunday, watching the Liverpool game, that was the only good thing, he’s a big Liverpool fan,” said Luke McGrath of his injured teammate.
“Given the extent of the injury, he has a long spell out ahead of him.
“He’s very down at the moment, and it’s important for us as a team to support him as much as we can in this difficult time.”
McGrath was joined by James Ryan and Noel Reid in visiting the injured flanker, and by Monday morning their worst fears were confirmed when Leinster revealed the extent of the injury.
“He had worked so hard to get himself back and physically fit (from a calf injury),” said Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty.
“He’s such a huge threat either side of the ball. Any team he is playing in, he gives them a lot of confidence, so it’s a big loss for Leinster rugby and Irish rugby, not to have him on the field for the most important competitions.
“I’m sad for him as well because he works hard to get himself right. He’s a very competitive young fella, he’ll probably clear his head for a couple of weeks and then make a plan to get himself back on his feet. There’s a bit of a road ahead of him.”
McGrath missed the entire Six Nations with a knee ligament injury of his own, and knows just how testing the next few months will be for Leavy.
An epic contest, and an occasion that will live long in the memory.— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) April 1, 2019
“He’ll have little short term goals during however long it is, six or nine months, that’s the kind of challenge that awaits him,” he said.
“But there are such good staff here, the rehab guys are brilliant, they’ll take him through what’s needed, it’s important we try and stay positive with him as much as we can.
"I obviously had those eight weeks out and it’s a very difficult time, every player wants to be out there playing and it’s very hard to watch at times from the sidelines.”
Leavy will be on a watching brief when Toulouse visit Aviva Stadium later this month, after the French side defeated Racing 92 in Paris on Sunday.
Despite playing over an hour with 14 men after Zach Holmes was sent off, the four-time European champions had enough to defeat their Top14 opponents, to set up a semi-final in Dublin.
“It was some game to watch,” McGrath said of Toulouse’s 22-21 win.
“It took some courage to come back (when down to 14 men), the style of rugby they played, even bringing on [Sebastien] Bezy, to make that substitution so early, they really nailed their tactics.
“They’re an incredibly tough team, we’ve already played them twice this year, and they’re just getting better as the season goes on.”
“We definitely rode our luck at times on Saturday. We’ll have to be better in all areas.
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Struggling to put into words how devastated I am with the injury... Firstly to miss the business end of the season with my @leinsterrugby brothers and our opportunity to pursue another European and league title. Secondly, to miss an opportunity to play in a world cup in Japan is haunting my thoughts. All I have ever aimed for in my career is the opportunity to shine on the world stage for my country and do the nation and my family proud. I fully back the @irishrugby boys to make a little bit of history as they always do and will watch on as #1 supporter. I have been blown away by the messages of support and encouragement I've received already. I am blessed to have the family and friends I do and thank everyone for their well wishes! Looking forward to starting the road to recovery soon... I will be back 🙌🏼 DL
Dan Leavy said the injury which has ruled him out of the World Cup is “haunting” his thoughts.
Leavy posted a message on instagram last night and vowed he will return. He wrote: ‘Struggling to put into words how devastated I am with the injury... .
“Firstly to miss the business end of the season with my @leinsterrugby brothers and our opportunity to pursue another European and league title.
"Secondly, to miss an opportunity to play in a world cup in Japan is haunting my thoughts. All I ever aimed for in my career is the opportunity to shine on the world stage for my country and do the nation and my family proud.
"I fully back the @irishrugbyboys to make a little bit of history and will watch on as #1supporter. Looking forward to starting the road to recovery soon... I will be back.”
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