1 - Denis Hickie (Leinster) v Toulouse, Stade de Toulouse, 1 April 2006
Try number one goes to Denis Hickie's outrageous effort in the never to be forgotten 41-35 quarter-final away win over Toulouse in 2006.The win was all about flamboyance and flair, and beating the French at their own game, and nowhere was that more encapsulated then Denis Hickie's truly brilliant second half try, which was scored just when Toulouse looked to be getting a grip on the tie.
Denis Hickie Recounts That Try . The try scorer himself remarked that:
"I think that's the best try I have been involved with, because I see it very much as a big team try. The ball is in play for a long time before I got my hands on the ball, and it had gone over and back between the two teams. We were attacking one minute and then we found ourselves defending and then we were attacking again and then defending right on our own line. And then we launch one final attack and that's when I first touch the ball. I think its one of the great tries because there are so many people involved from both teams."
"It started from a kick off. We had the ball briefly but we turned it over, they counter attacked and kicked down the pitch, Girvan gathers it under pressure and he kicks down the pitch. Nyanga then makes a break, and he gets tackled not far from our line. They move the ball one way to the left and then to the right, and then Michalak throws a fairly looping pass and Shane Horgan goes for the intercept that doesn't quite come off. But we somehow manage to come away with the ball."
"Lot of players on both teams thought we were going to kick the ball out. I remember at that stage looking up and they were in disarray. We were slightly in disarray as well due to all the play that happened, but we had the semblance of a backline with Felipe, Gordon D'Arcy and myself, while they had one back and a few forwards, and once we beat the first line, I remember running around Pelous, they had a lot of cover coming across in Clerc and Heymans. We had a fair bit of work to do. Luckily D'Arcy was there to distract them a little bit. I fed it to him and he fed it back to me and I just managed to squeeze in in the corner."
D'Arcy did not hold the ball for long, as he basically treated it like a hot potato and gave it straight back to Hickie."He didn't seem that interested alright, actually. I threw it to him and he said "I'm not having any of this". He told me afterwards that his legs were pretty heavy at that stage of the match. It's amazing that just that small bit of interplay can hold up the defenders that little bit. Obviously it happened quite fast but I still can remember it. What makes it most satisfying from my point of view is that it was in a really big game and it came at a crucial time of the game but when you watch it again the ball is in play a long time before I get my hands on the ball and that's what makes it as a try or as a passage of rugby so exciting."
Ever since that day 'Toulouse' has been used as a means to laud Leinster, due to their brilliant attacking play, but it has also been used as a stick to beat them with, as they followed up, or rather didn't follow up, that scintillating display with a 30-6 loss to Munster in the ensuing semi-final. Hickie is thankful that people can now look back at that 41-35 win for what it was, and nothing else.
"Luckily that's not the most remembered game anymore after Leinster's success last year of winning the Heineken Cup but in a lot of ways guys who played in that match can enjoy it a little bit more because up to this year it was maybe seen as our finest hour and now its good to see it in the context of finer hours. But we can enjoy it for what it was, because we did go over there as big underdogs - it was a very very tough draw, playing Toulouse away".
"I think the way we won that game and the amount of tries we scored made it a very special match for us. It was one of those games where everyone came together and it really clicked for us. Unfortunately we weren't able to replicate that for the rest of the competition. We certainly hit the ground running that day and I don't think there are many teams that would have lived with us."
This article first appeared in the October 2009 issue of Emerald Rugby Magazine www.emeraldrugby.com.
ERC 15 (1995 - 2010)
A microsite dedicated to celebrating the 1st 15 years of European Club Rugby