As Paul Boyle looks set to make his Connacht senior debut hefinally sees his Leinster dropping as “a blessing in disguise.” Boyle, who captained both Leinster and Ireland from youthsto u20s level was let go by the club after his underage contract had run out.This came as a surprise to most of the followers of underage rugby in Irelandafter the back rower picked up a spot in the u20’s world cup team of thetournament.
Boyle himself however, admitted that he wasn’t all toosurprised.”When I was asked to captain the 20s and after I had a goodworld cup I thought there was a chance that he would be drafted into theLeinster academy but realistically I always knew I wouldn’t make it.Leinster’s backrow is ridiculous, and they had already brought Deego MaxDeegan in the year before.”Though Boyle expected his exclusion from the Leinster setup, his speculation didn’t soften the blow of losing out on a place.
“I don’tcry. I never have in my memory but that day, when I found out, I was veryclose”, he said.In contrast to an earlier encounter with Boyle, his tonewhen speaking about not making it in the Leinster academy was this time muchmore content. The reason for this was made obvious when Boyle continued.”Look, I got a call last week to join the Connacht seniorsquad, and only for a stupid toe injury I would have been in the matchdaysquad. I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have gotten that call off Leinsterfor at least two or three years if I was still with them”, he said.Being selected for the Connacht seniors matchday squad is anaccolade that would benefit Boyle, not only in his pursuance of a professionalcareer but also on a financial scale. The wage for an academy player isrelatively low at “four figures” but making appearances for the senior teamdrastically changes this.
“We don’t make a whole lot of money in the academy and lreally need to change my car at the moment, so it would be nice to get a fewcaps for that too. I can’t tell you exactly what the match fee is in Connachtbut considering I’m on four figures, it is considerable.” Just as the Gorey man’s career looks set to take off, herecalled fondly days when his current situation looked extremely unlikely. “I remember we were outside ‘Fatcats’, (Boyle’slocal chipper) I was in terrible shape at the time. I was tucking into my two ‘buyone get one free’ meals. We had this before every rugby training for about twoyears”, he began.
Never mindthat though, he continued with a smile, “my friend asked me what I wanted to dowhen I was finished school. I told him I wanted to be a professional rugbyplayer. I remember him laughing at me before realizing I wasn’t messing.
Iremember him saying something like “be realistic, that won’t happen”, or somethinglike that.”This for Boylewas the moment he realised that he needed to do more work to acieve his goal. “Iwas annoyed at that comment and it made me want it more. I stayed aftertraining that night for something stupid like two hours running laps.
I hadgrit in my teeth. And even though it put unneciasary strain on my body, it didgive me good habits.”The hard workpaid off for Boole however.
“I would probably do up to four fitness or speedsets a week as well as a load of gym work and I genuinely think that that iswhy I am where I am today”, he said. Just asBoyle could laugh at his young “fat” self, so too could he recall his school’srugby playing days joyfully.”Rugby isall about friends and family for me. I went to Blackrock in first year and Iwasn’t getting on great with the rugby because I just didn’t enjoy it as muchthere but when I came home and started playing with all of my friends with myfamily all involved too, that’s when I really fell in love with the sport”, hesaid.”All of mybest memories are of playing rugby as a young lad and all of my best friendsare the ones I played with.”At twentyyears old, he is on track to reaching the pinicle of his dream, to play forIreland.
Having already captained Leinster u20s side to an interprovisial championshipwin and Irish u20s side to the world cup, Boyle started off his AIL campaignwith Buccaneers with a man-of-the-match performance.Hissuccesses thus far haven’t been without sacrifice however. When questionedabout his life, Boyle, for the first time in the conversation spoke about rugbywith an air of dissatisfaction in his voice.
“Yeah I missout on an awful lot. I can’t go on holidays with my friends and didn’t get to goto my debs”, he explained. “Every weekend I see photos of everyone heading outand I do get jealous, but I remind myself that it’ll be well worth it in theend if all goes well, and rugby has made me experience a lot of new thing andplenty of new places.” It is clearfrom talking to Boyle however that, though humble in his responses, he is proudof his achievements and the end justifies the means for him. The Bucks man hasbig dreams and achieving these dreams will be the maximum reward for his hardwork.”I justreally want to play rugby professionally. There was a time there that I reallydidn’t know if I’d get a contract. I had an agent on the job and he was lookingall over England and France and eventually he was in talks with Pau.
That fellthrough but luckily Connacht wanted me after the world cup.””In thosefew weeks where I was out of contract I was in a bad state but if all goes welleverything I’ve done and everything I haven’t been able to do because of rugbywill be well worth it.”As ourconversation drew to a close Boyle’s character, which won him a ‘Citizens ofWexford’ award, was evident. Though successful and impressive in his field, hehas remained humble and courteous. The extent of his drive was also evident andfrom listening to him I understand where his titanic performances on the pitchover the last two years have come from. Ireland wereunlucky to lose out on the 2023 world cup but with Boyles form and hismotivation I would be surprised if he missed out too.
It is clear that thefuture is incredibly bright for him. He knows his fate.”I want tobe there Rugby World Cup in 2023 and I know that given my age I’m goodenough. I won’t stop until I’m on that plane so count me in.”30