URC: Cardiff v Edinburgh: Ben Healy aims to emulate Munster’s road to glory

Stand-off believes the same ingredients for success that his former team enjoyed are there in the squad at the Hive

Ben Healy
Ben Healy in action for Edinburgh in last week's win at home to Scarlets. Image:© Craig Watson. www.craigwatson.co.uk

BEN HEALY knows exactly what it takes to win the URC the hard way, having done exactly that last season with Munster. Now he aims to emulate that feat with Edinburgh, and, while he does not claim that the parallels are exact between his old employers and his current club, he is convinced that the potential for success is very much in evidence at the Hive.

The Irish province were outsiders going into the 2022-23 play-offs. Their last five games – the final two of the regular season and then the three play-off rounds – were all away from home. After finishing fifth thanks to a narrow win at the Stormers and a draw at the Sharks, they then beat Glasgow at Scotstoun in the quarter-final and Leinster in Dublin in the semi before returning to Cape Town and beating the Stormers again in the final.

Stand-off Healy came off the bench in that match – his last with Munster before joining up with Edinburgh – to help steer his team to a 19-14 victory. Now, 11 months on, he is a far more central figure with Edinburgh than he was with Munster, and has played every minute of each one of his team’s league fixtures to date. He admits that neither he nor any of his former team-mates could entirely explain their recipe for success then, but he is sure that something similar is cooking in the capital.

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 “I definitely think we have what it takes to win a trophy here, 100 per cent,” he said. “I think we have all the ingredients here.

“To be honest, I don’t know what it was last year [that sparked Munster’s run to the title]. When people ask about it, whether it’s guys here or in the Scotland camp or friends and family, I don’t know.

“Even at the time, within the squad, when it was all finished and done, we were kind of looking back and  [shrugs].

“It was really hard: five games away from home against teams at the top end of the table. It’s hard to put your finger on one thing. It all came together for us at the right time.”

The Munster squad for the final contained experienced Ireland internationals such as Tadhg Beirne, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray. But Healy is loath to accept the theory that their success at Test-match level explains or made easier their team’s triumph in club competition. “We didn’t have lots of experience of winning trophies – a lot of the lads hadn’t,” he insisted.

“Yeah, a few with the national team, but the club team? Very little. Keith Earls and Conor Murray were the only two left. 

“The boys here have had reasonable success with the Scottish team as well. It’s hard to tell if that made a difference or not last year. Obviously the experience of winning trophies does help, but it’s not something that’s necessary because we have to start somewhere.”

While Munster managed two wins and a draw in their three late-season games in South Africa, Edinburgh have lost there three times over the past few weeks. “It’s obviously a tough place to go,” Healy conceded. “We’re still learning how to win there, but you saw it’s possible from the results at the weekend, with Munster and the Ospreys beating the Bulls and the Stormers.

“We could still be down there in the play-off, so hopefully we’ll learn quickly.”

Edinburgh have still got a fight on their hands to get into the top-eight play-off spots and face a tough test away to Cardiff on Saturday. The Welsh side are down in 12th place and out of the running, but they only lost by two points late in last week’s game away to Ulster, and Healy is sure that they should not be under-estimated.

“It’s a proper, proper test. They’re a proper team and they’re coming into good form, so we know it’s going to be a real test down there.” 

Once the URC season comes to an end – the final does not take place on 22 June – there will be barely time for Healy to draw breath before Scotland are off on their summer tour to North and South America, where they will play Canada, the USA, Chile and Uruguay. But, having still only earned a handful of caps for the national team, he is eager to add to his tally. 

“Yes, absolutely,” he said. “It’s four games, four opportunities, so hopefully I’ll get on that plane and hopefully I’ll get opportunities over there.”

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About Stuart Bathgate 1407 Articles
Stuart has been the rugby correspondent for both The Scotsman and The Herald, and was also The Scotsman’s chief sports writer for 14 years from 2000.

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