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Loyalties split in Ruddock household

SATURDAY should be interesting in the Ruddock household. Wales against Ireland - father Mike against mother Bernie. Leinster against Connacht - brother Ciaran beside brother Rhys?

While Ciaran and Rhys Ruddock grew up with a Welsh father, Mike, the 2005 Wales Grand Slam winner, there was always the presence of their Irish mother Bernie to split the allegiance.

That was tipped further in Ireland's direction by the move of Ciaran and Rhys into the Leinster Academy and by the IRFU's decision to make Mike the Ireland U20 coach from last season.

"There's obviously mixed emotions there. My mother's Irish and my dad's Welsh, but my mum and dad are half-Irish because both my granddads are from Wales and both my grandmothers are from Ireland. So, it's a real mix - split loyalties everywhere," he said.

"He's (Mike) half-Irish himself. He coaches the Ireland 20s. He's fortunate to have coached Leinster and Bective and he loves the people here.

"Obviously, on my mum's side of the family it's very close because she's one of eight."



Taste

While the whole country will rise early on Saturday morning, Ciaran and Rhys will have their own jobs to do, if selected, later on that day, when Connacht come to the RDS where Ciaran played for the first time last Saturday.

"I really enjoyed it, it was fantastic. I was delighted to play in the RDS for Leinster. It's something I've been working hard for and I've got a taste for it," he said.

Ultimately, the brothers Ruddock are making their way towards the same destination, that of blindside flanker.

The elder Ciaran, 22, has accepted defeat in his main ambition to dog out a career in the second row.

He is simply two or three inches short of the height required.

"Yeah, I've moved to six now and it's something that's been talked about for a while now because of my height," he said. "Hopefully it suits me better because I can carry the ball and tackle. I measure up better now as a six than a second row."

This brings him into the same territory, the back row, as Rhys, still just 20, who is also seen in most quarters as a long-term prospect at blindside.

Rhys is operating on the openside as interim captain in the absence of Leo Cullen, and it was from there that he stole some of Ciaran's limelight by snatching the crucial bonus-point try against Aironi last Saturday.

The Ruddocks would like nothing more than to play a part in a Leinster win over Connacht.

As for Ireland and Wales, well, it is best to keep that one in-house.