The 2019 Rugby World Cup will be held in Asia, outside the traditional heartland of rugby union. This September, the world’s best 21 teams will fly to Japan to defend their colors and become the trophy-winning nation. Amongst this year’s teams is Ireland, and amongst its delegation, Ulster Rugby captain Iain Henderson. The rugby star shared with us his experience as an international rugby player and his insights on the World Cup team and individual preparation.
… PLAYING FOR A NATIONAL TEAM
What are the main differences between playing in a club (Ulster) and Ireland (national team)?
” When you’re playing for Ulster, everyone trains together all the time, throughout the whole year which brings a close atmosphere to the team. One of the challenges you have, playing with Ireland, is that you have to become as tight as you are when playing with your club team but over a very short space of time. Being able to bring everyone together in a short amount of time to be able to perform is definitely one of the main challenges in international rugby. ”
” Obviously, one of the other challenges is that you’re playing higher calibre international teams so your preparation has to be spot-on. We’ll need to make sure that all our set plays are perfectly executed, and that we understand our opposition strengths and weaknesses as best as we can. Obviously, when playing with Ulster we still strive to have the same amount of detail in there but it’s not always possible because of the high number of teams.”
Do you see your national teammates throughout the season? What do you guys do to work well together even though you don’t see each other often?
” Throughout the season, we play against lads who we then would have to become very close with for the World Cup. This can sometimes be difficult but at the same time, it gives us a common ground and enables us to get to know each other a lot quicker. Coaches and senior players also drive and facilitate squad cohesion with team building events, going out for dinner together and other social activities.”