Galwegians’ Ryan Smith has flourished in his first season in sky blue, heading into the play-offs as Wegians’ top scorer of the season with ten tries. Ryan has been a key part of Galwegians’ promotion push this season as part of a formidable front-row partnership with Jack Winters and Garyn Daniel.

We spoke to Ryan recently, and had him reflect on his inaugural season in the AIL with Galwegians.

Most of Ryan’s family had limited interest in rugby so it was only during his time in school that he began to appreciate the rugby lifestyle. He looked up to the rugby greats of the time with Ryan recalling the times watching videos of Brian O’Driscoll and Jonah Lomu.  

Ryan joined the Blues from Corrib RFC where he played a majority of his rugby growing up. At the age of eight he joined the team alongside his school friends. After spending a few years in the higher age groups, he dropped to his own age group where he began to excel on the field. 

When he was sixteen, he got the opportunity to play interpro rugby with Connacht at U17s and went on to play for every age group up to U19s. It was here that rugby became more than just a passion for Ryan.

“From there, I decided to take rugby a bit more seriously and I have been enjoying it, taking it as it comes”, said Ryan.

The U19 campaign from last year was a particular highlight for Ryan where he was alongside current teammate Cian Brady. Playing in the Sportsground was an extraordinary experience and getting a win against Ulster during the campaign was the cherry on top. 

“Playing in the interpro tournament during the summer was the highlight. Putting on the Connacht jersey and running onto the Sportsground, it was very cool”. 

Ryan has been one of many new additions to a squad that is full to the brim of young talents throughout the field. His motivation to keep improving comes from his own team and attributes most of the tries he has scored this season to his team. 

“It comes from the team. Everyone on the team is self-motivated in every training session, so it’s the amount of energy that comes from the team. It’s a great group of lads and when you’re enjoying your rugby, you play well”.

Ryan has a wealth of experience on either side of him in the front row, with the captain and Galwegians veteran Jack Winters and Welshman Garyn Daniel. Ryan has relished playing alongside both players and learning from his coaches and the bank of knowledge they have. 

“It’s great having lads with that kind of experience. Every training session they are both giving me tips with scrummaging, and lineouts. Garyn obviously has huge experience in Wales and Jack played for a few teams with the Connacht Juniors and Ballinrobe. They both have so much to give in every single training session so you are always learning something new”. 

 “In every training session, Jarred Butler, who’s a great coach, has us doing lineouts before training and during too. When you practice that much, it’s hard not to get good at it.”

Reflecting on the season as a whole, Ryan has enjoyed his first outing with Galwegians although he feels there were some moments that they could have achieved more. 

“It’s sickening looking back. There are definitely been a few games where we have dropped off. I think it was a mental thing where we switched off, took off foot the throttle and let teams come back.”

Two of those games came against Bruff, against whom Galwegians square off in the AIL Division 2C Promotion playoff semi-final. Ryan says the team are eager to settle the score against their rivals.

“I’m confident that if we keep our discipline and stop conceding penalties, then we stand a very good chance of making it through to the final.”

Ryan continues to strive towards the highest levels of rugby and will take the challenge to Bruff this weekend as Galwegians look to return to Division 2B.