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Ryan Reaches Century

18th September 2017 By The Editor

John Ryan in Champions Cup action for Munster last season.

John Ryan in Champions Cup action for Munster last season. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

In wider rugby circles, not many can claim to have played for Munster.  Fewer again have reached 100 appearances in the famous red jersey.  In fact, just ten of the current Munster squad of 42 players can lay claim to such an accolade with John Ryan the latest man to do so against Ospreys last Saturday.

Just shy of six years have passed since Ryan first took to the field for Munster, seeing almost ten minutes off the bench as the province defended valiantly to record an 18-13 win at the Cardiff City Stadium.

Given his somewhat scenic route along the Munster development pathway, the Berrings native felt fortunate and humbled to win just one cap and could scarcely have imagined that in 2017, he’d return to Wales as an Irish international to make his 100th Munster appearance.

From the age of ten with Muskerry RFC and through an impressive schools career with CBC, all was rosy, Ryan’s rugby career continuing on an upward trajectory.  But having played with the Munster U19s and U20s, the prop was subsequently released from the sub-academy and hopes of a professional rugby career seemed little more than that.

In the summer of 2010 came a turnaround.  He took it upon himself to reinvigorate his career under the auspices of his then club UCC, and within one year, the club performances of a fitter and leaner Ryan had him not just back on the Munster radar, but on a development contract for the 2011/12 season.

It was a journey that undoubtedly made his first Munster cap all the sweeter.

“I was on a development contract back then and was no spring chicken, I think I was 23, and word came through that Marcus (Horan) was injured – there was a bit of a shortage at prop and I was in.  I was delighted.

“It was probably something that I didn’t envisage coming up along.  I started to take things seriously in school, fell off again once I didn’t make it with the academy, and then to come back and make your debut at the age of 23 was very satisfying.

“It was going to be a massive step up because I had just gotten back into the Munster set up and hadn’t really played that much with Munster A.  I couldn’t even tell you who I was playing bedside that day – I was nervous and didn’t really take it all in.  But what I do remember was that it was some rush playing for Munster for the first time.”

And it would be the first of many.  From five appearances in his first season as a development player, to 25 last season as one of the pack’s most senior heads, the former club international has flourished in recent years, while all the time managing ulcerative colitis.  A flare up in 2014 aside, the 29-year-old has never let the medical condition hamper his ambitions or ability.

Highlights, there have been many across his 100 Munster caps, but understandably most will have come last season, in a year that few will forget.

“Last season has to be the standout for me.  I was chipping away at getting into that starting squad since 2011 and last year was a breakthrough on that front.  Getting to two semi-finals and playing for Axel the way we did against Glasgow is something I’ll never forget.

“As regards the 100th cap itself, it was business as usual really.  I enjoyed it after the fact and was glad I got a good bit of game time, but before I just wanted to get the win on the occasion – a lot don’t get that.”

In reflecting on last season, it’s a mark of the man and his modesty that he failed to mention his nomination for Munster Player of the Year, his inclusion in the Guinness PRO12 Dream Team, a try-scoring man of the match performance in the Champions Cup quarter final win over Toulouse at Thomond Park, nor his Irish debut and a further eight international caps.

So what next?! 29 is after all far from old in prop years…

“First things first, I need to get back into the matchday XV in Munster.  The likes of Stephen Archer is playing fantastic rugby at the moment and there’s more competition coming from Brian Scott and Ciaran Parker, and then you have the guys at the other side of the scrum.

“I need to work hard and get back into the number 3 jersey at Munster rather than think about anything else.”

Traditionally, 150 and 200 caps are the next career milestones on the provincial horizon.  Given his form in recent seasons, few would bet against Ryan achieving both.

Next Home Game

Munster return to home action against Cardiff Blues at Thomond Park on Saturday September 30th for a lunchtime kick-off, 1.30pm.

Tickets from

  • Adults €20
  • Juniors €7
  • Families €40

Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park, from Ticketmaster outlets, or by calling  061 421103.


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