Thomas Clarkson: “Tries don’t come around very often”
November 17, 2023 3:00 pm Daniel Kelly
This exerpt is part of an interview that features in the Matchday Programme, which will be on sale in the RDS on Saturday, ahead of Leinster’s BKT United Rugby Chmapionship Round 5 clash against Scarlets.
Leinster’s tap-and-go routines are becoming the stuff of lore.
Last Sunday, Thomas Clarkson was on the end of one, scoring his second try for the province, in the BKT United Rugby Championship win against Dragons.
It was just reward for what he called an “incredibly long” pre-season that has since seen the 23-year-old prop feature twice in the opening four League games.
“I injured my shoulder too, so I had surgery at the start of June, and came back in and in the second session back, I did my calf. It was a long summer.”
After prepping the routine during the week, Clarkson was aware it may be called, but with greasy conditions in Rodney Parade, an intricate play didn’t look like it was on the cards.
“When it was called, I was getting a bit worried. Ross Byrne came over to me and was like; ‘Calm down! You’ve nailed this in training this week.’
“We walked through it a few times, and James Culhane and I had worked it out well. We tried it on Monday and Tuesday. It worked, but it wasn’t pretty.
“Against Trinity, we scored it. It wasn’t pretty, so there were some touch ups. The routine was instinct, by the time it came to the game.
“A few lads were questioning the call on the sidelines, but it was our go-to for the week. I was delighted though. Tries don’t come around very often!”
Despite being away from home, Clarkson was pleasantly surprised to hear some cheers when he crossed the whitewash.
“I didn’t realise how many people travel to away games!
“Obviously we had the St. Mary’s crew on the flight back with us. They were making a good bit of noise in the corner. There were so many fans dotted around the ground though.”
Coincidentally, Clarkson’s only other try for the province came last season, against tonight’s opponents, in a 35-5 win last season in Parc y Scarlets.
Having only played against Glasgow and Dragons so far this campaign, the former Ireland U-20 prop is looking to impress against Scarlets.
“Not being involved against Sharks or Edinburgh was definitely frustrating. I had to bring that into the Dragons week, and I was happy with my performance. I want to build on that.
“There is a very good pack this week. There are some internationals back too. For me – I’m excited to play with them, but it’s about not backing down, and going into my shell.
“It’s all about playing how I know I can play, and all will take care of itself.”
It’s nine months to the day since Clarkson last lined out in the RDS. It’s an honour he never takes for granted, having made his debut behind closed doors in August 2020 against Ulster.
“It’s unbelievable playing there. The crowds are consistently getting good numbers. My first ten caps were during Covid, so it took me 18 months to actually play in front of anybody.
“I’m still coming to grips with all these people coming out to watch me play. It’s a big honour. I want to put on a performance every week. It doesn’t get any less special.”