As Leinster Rugby’s press officer, Peter Breen was the ideal man to record his province’s European Cup winning adventure.
And in ‘Leinster Conquering Europe, the first time author has produced the perfect coffee table companion in which fans can reflect on another of Irish rugby’s great successes in this remarkable year.
“It was a great project to be involved in,” said Peter, while en route to the Leinster ‘A’ team’s 16-13 win over Plymouth in the new British & Irish Cup competition last Saturday.
“I was very, very fortunate to be entrusted to tell the story of the Heineken Cup success and I have to say that the players, the coaches and their family members were hugely supportive of the book and really got behind it.”
Peter added: “It’s mainly anecdotal; there’s some good stories in there from the likes of Brian O’Driscoll, Rocky Elsom, Felipe Contepomi, Jonathan Sexton and everyone else telling their story of what was an incredible year for Leinster and for Irish rugby. So hopefully it’s a book that the supporters will enjoy as well.”
Of course, the fun about reaching any destination is the journey it took to get there and in the case of Leinster’s European victory, some of the story’s main protagonists got off a few stops ago.
But they’ve not been forgotten, with three of the team’s greatest servants also interviewed by Breen for the book. It’s a timely nod to men who rucked, mauled and body-swerved their way into the fans’ affections over the past 15 years.
“That was part of the objective of the book,” Peter explained. “While it tells the story of the Heineken Cup win, there were many players including Denis Hickie, Victor Costello and Reggie Corrigan who were part of Leinster’s Heineken Cup journey.
“And while they mightn’t have physically shared in the joy of lifting the trophy, they certainly, both mentally and emotionally would have been there in Edinburgh and they had an interesting story to tell in how they perceived this year’s success.”
Looking back on the team’s many epic wins (Toulouse and Munster) and dramatic reversals (Munster and Castres), Peter said the pride extolled by the former players lent itself perfectly to the telling of this tale.
“You can feel their emotion and how proud they were to be a part of Leinster and there was no sense of bitterness at all about them missing out from a playing point of view. It’s great to know that so many people shared in the joy of the victory in Murrayfield.”
Putting the book together was a break from the normal day-to-day activities of life as the team’s media officer, but it was a task Peter clearly enjoyed.
“I had a month to write the book,” he said. “I found out on June 9th and it was due on July 10th so it was a bit of a scramble as I’d never dreamt of using regurgitated interviews or articles…
“In fairness to the players – you had guys heading off to the Lions tour; you had Rocky Elsom heading back to Australia, Felipe in the process of moving to France, fellas on holidays, the players away on Churchill Cup duty – but they were really supportive and very giving of their time.
“The objective from my end was to produce a book that did justice to the supporters and did justice to the players because it’s their story and a great story it was to tell.”
Illustrated with Inpho’s time-honoured superb photography, ‘Leinster Conquering Europe’ is a book that all rugby fans and not just Leinster supporters should enjoy.
As part of a stunning year for the game on this island, Peter Breen has scripted an insightful, entertaining read which should make its way onto many a rugby fan’s wish list come the Festive season.