RWC23: “It actually helps to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder” – Ben Healy

Stand-off isn't bitter but would have a point to prove if selected to face Ireland in final World Cup pool match

Ben Healy insists he won't be content simply making up the numbers during Scotland's World Cup campaign. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Ben Healy insists he won't be content simply making up the numbers during Scotland's World Cup campaign. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

BEN HEALY harbours no grudges about the fact he had to hop across the Irish Sea in order to break into international rugby, and he stresses that he is not currently looking any further ahead than Scotland’s final warm-up match against Georgia next Saturday, but when pushed he does concede that the thought of locking horns with the country of his birth in his new nation’s final World Cup pool match in Paris on 7th October is a tantalising prospect.

“I’ll probably cross that bridge when I come to it,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I’m an overly bitter person or anything. But, yeah, I suppose there could be an element of me having something to prove.

“Sometimes it actually helps to have a bit of a chip on your shoulder,” he added. “If people told you that basically you weren’t good enough for a certain club or team, then obviously you want to prove them wrong. But at the moment I’m just honoured to be here with Scotland and to be going to a World Cup.


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Healy, who was born and raised in Co Tipperary, played for Ireland at under-20s level and all his pro rugby for his native Munster before committing earlier this year to join Edinburgh this summer whilst simultaneously throwing his lot in with the Scotland national team. He qualifies to wear the thistle through his mother, Maria, who was born in England to two Scottish parents and moved to Turriff in Aberdeenshire when she was still of nursery age.

He was first publicly linked with a move to Scotland in late 2020, when Glasgow Warriors were thought to be on the verge of signing the then 21-year-old before agreeing a deal to bring Duncan Weir back to Scotstoun instead, but Healy explained that conversations over a switch of countries started long before that.

“People within the SRU have kept in contact with me since I came out of school, to be honest,” he explained. “Once they found out I was Scottish-qualified they were always keen to get me over. It didn’t materialise until I was about four or five years into playing with Munster and decided to make the jump. But they were always keen. I’ve gone at the right time. I enjoyed my time with Munster and ended up winning a trophy there. But I can’t wait to get stuck in here over the next few years and see where we can take it.

“My mum’s obviously been delighted with everything [that’s happened] since she’s Scottish!” he added. “She’s from Turriff and we used to go over once or twice a year. I could never understand anyone! But it’s certainly a nice part of the world.

“She never pushed me or anything, but I could see she was really happy when I made my decision. We had a couple of days off [at the start of this week] and I was actually back over in Ireland when I got the call from Gregor [to confirm his selection].

‘The last year has been a bit of a whirlwind and it certainly hasn’t been easy at times. There have been some tough decisions and a lot of things which have been out of my control. But this makes it all worthwhile.

‘The reaction from my family and friends in Ireland has been great. But this is only the start for me. It doesn’t mean much to just ‘go’ to a World Cup – you want to actually ‘play’ in a World Cup. I want to play for Scotland for many more years to come. This is just a really exciting way to kick it all off.”

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There is, of course, a fairly significant obstacle standing in the way of Healy’s dream of becoming a regular in the Scotland No 10 jersey during the next few years, in the inimitable shape of Finn Russell – arguably the best stand-off on the planet at the moment. For his part, Healy insists that he values being able to both compete against and learn from such an accomplished player.

“Finn has been great with me,” he said. “Between him and Gregor Townsend, I’d say those are the two I’ve learned the most from. Gregor obviously played 10 and as a head coach is always keeping an eye on you and making sure you can do better. I’d say Brad Mooar  [Scotland’s assistant attack coach] as well, actually, who’s been great for my development.

“I’ve been picking Finn’s brains as much as possible and just watching him in games. I would have always watched him in the past but I’m doing so a little bit more closely now that I’m involved. If I see something he’s done in training or in games I’ll just ask, ‘what were you thinking there?’ and he’s very open. He’s just keen for me to be as good as I can be as that’s going to help the team.

“He’s a chilled guy but he’s also still really focused. That’s just his personality and there’s nothing wrong with that. We’re all different within the squad. He’s just as focused as the rest of us.”

Healy first joined up with Scotland ahead of last season’s Six Nations and made his debut off the bench in the team’s final match of the championship against Italy, and his first start against the same opposition at the start of this summer’s schedule.

Townsend has spoken of his admiration of the way the 24-year-old quickly settled into the squad with positive contributions to team meetings and confident communication on the training pitch, but Healy says he did not immediately feel at home in his new environment.

“That didn’t come straight away,” he said. “I was in the Six Nations camp but didn’t play until the last game. So it did take a week or two to fully settle in on the rugby side of things. Maybe even longer to be perfectly honest.

“It was great this time before we played Italy as I’d been training with the squad for a number of weeks so by the time that came around I felt fully clued up on what we were trying to do.

“But it did take a bit of time at the start as Munster and all the Irish provinces play a little bit differently. For me to come over has been great for my development but it certainly didn’t click right away.”


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About David Barnes 3816 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including he Herald/Sunday Herald, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Daily Record, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

17 Comments

  1. Hastings is a far better 10. He’s won big natches for us including Paris which is no mean feat. Healy ducked out of fighting for the Ireland jersey because he was so far out of the race and is totally unproven. God help us if Finn gets injured….

  2. Would still like Fin Smith to throw his lot in with Scotland – really need 3 or 4 interns standard 10s and Russell may or may not last another 4 years so future planning essential in such a pivotal role. A bit worried that if OF – rightly – gets a long ban, then Borthwick might call up FS into the England World Cup squad, virtually destroying any hope of him donning the thistle. Really hope Ross Thompson has a great season, he’s had some rotten luck with injuries and has shown a lot of potential.

  3. In the great concerns about what the Futures XV are being exposed to in the Super Series, it has probably been missed that Isaac Coates, 18, and just out of school, looks a real player at 10. He leads, directs others, is unafraid to take the ball to the line, can offload, throw long passes and kicks. He looks to have an intuitive understanding of the game that is hugely promising. Hopefully he develops fully and by the time Finn is ready to hand over the baton he is ready to pick it up, all being Ben Healy, Ross Thompson, Charlie Savala and even Fin Smith might fancy a leg in between

    • Will keep an eye out for that name in future:)? Who is he playing for just now, I presume it’s one of the super 6 teams??

  4. Not sure why some people are already trying to knock the guy as 2nd/3rd choice for Munster. There probably wasn’t much between him and Crowley and Carberry had fallen away so being 2nd choice at one club doesnt mean he cant excel at Edinburgh and Scotland. Ive seen him many times for Munster and he looks a decent player. Often good players who move clubs advance their game. So lets hope so for Edinburgh and Scotland.

    Regards the Edinburgh set up with Kinghorn and Boffelli to accomodate. i would suggest Healy is clearly going to be the regular starter at 10 and Kingorhn can stick to full back. I think having a proper 10 at Edinburgh will make a big difference to Edinburgh. Boffelli can also play wing which he does for Argentina and with injuries/rotation it is rare that we will have all the back 3 players at the same time so just adds some depth.

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  5. A great state for Scottish rugby to be in going forward. I hope and believe Finn will make it to the 2027 World Cup before hanging up his boots, while we have yet to see the best of Healy as he matures with more first team rugby under his belt. He was clearly an important cog in that Munster team that won the URC title and they must be kicking themselves for parting with him. I have to say though that the Irish lads on the Planet Rugby string have been nothing but magnanimous, without a trace of bitterness towards him. I still think Hastings should have gone to France a well though. If Healy has a chip on his shoulder and it spurs him on then great – a drop goal to win the match against Ireland in the final minute of added time would do nicely. It’s just he deed moggie on his upper lip I would change!

  6. The interesting question is where do Kinghorn and Healey play for Edinburgh? Healey and Vellacot/Steele seem more balanced than Kinghorn at FH, but then do you really drop Boffelli?

  7. I suggested a couple of weeks back that “Healy got MoM based on two siege gun kicks, I don’t think it was for getting the back line moving” perhaps a bit harsh but on the day those were my thoughts. It’s to be hoped that Townsend’s coaching team have seen something in him that the Irish set up missed.
    As there is nowhere else to pose the question, what thoughts on an Ireland XV and Bench versus England yesterday, a lackluster opposition and down to 14 most of the second half with their ‘Traditional Red’ can’t tackle card?
    For a moment I wished we had Ireland up first rather than the Boks, but as they say if you are up against a top rated side it’s best to get them ‘Cold’ although they [SA] put Wales to the Sword yesterday it was a very much weakened and inexperienced Welsh side.
    Time will tell but it will be a typical World Rugby inability to organise the Booze up in a Brewery with their ranking farce with so many of the today’s top rated teams in the same half of the draw, especially if we are first of the Home Unions on the Eurostar or at Charles de Gaulle.

    • SA didn’t have their 1st choice side out there either and still pumped Wales. We will struggle against them unless we have thoroughly practiced a different way of playing them than the past. Otherwise it’ll just be the same old…’we were in it for 60mins’ thing yet ultimately losing by significant margin. Ditto Ireland. We play well against teams that are open in their rugby…but Ireland and SA just smother the life out of our attack.

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      • I certainly don’t think, never have actually, that the SA fixture would be anything other than a tough day at the office, but your assertion that the side out against Wales was in any fashion weak is a bit of the track. Compared to a Welsh side that was pretty much third choices in part and two props had only a handful of caps between them well some would say they could well have scored more than the 7 tries with the 8th PT controversial thanks to the TMO.

  8. Healy is well clear of Hastings. He’s a URC winning 10 and I saw more skill in his game for Scotland than I have in any of Hastings- I’m not saying he’s bad but his career has certainly been helped by his second name. Healy also seems to have a much better, less self centred attitude.

    Thompson was great the season before last and is still young so can hopefully get some injury free runs put together.

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    • You do realise Ben Healy was third choice fly half at Munster, behind Crowley and Carberry? He’s played more 15 than 10 in his professional career and indeed came on at 15 in that URC final. To say he displayed more skill in what was undoubtedly a good performance, but against Italy in a WC warm up, than Hastings has in his career is absurd and disrespectful. Furthermore, bringing into question his apparent “selfish” nature when you’ve never even met him is even worse. So you’ve watched him for Scotland a few times and feel like you’re entitled to question his character? What is it exactly about his attitude that comes across as self-centred, please enlighten us?

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      • Agree. Healy looks far more like a 15. We can’t aspire to beat nations when we are picking their 9th choice players.

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      • Agree, no need to start making comments about Hasting’s character.

        On Healy, he wasn’t actually third choice by the time he left Munster. Carberry dropped off and Healy had overtaken him in the pecking order.

    • I do rate Hastings, particularly as a runner with the ball and is able to set the inside centre free by his ability to pass as he is being tackled as the gain line has been breached by that time

  9. Could in all reality be in a battle with 3 others as Hastings is still in the frame and Thomson will be back later in the season. But good on him for throwing his lot in with us.

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