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I say what’s on my mind

Ryan Baird is back at school, St Michael’s College in Dublin, where his rugby journey began.

It’s an appropriate place for the launch of the new Tackle Your Feelings Schools Online Teaching app for which the Ireland and Leinster forward is an ambassador.

The 24-year-old is a two-time Six Nations winner and known, among his team-mates, as a fellow who could “come out with anything, he could come out with a question about fishing or golf. His head just goes anywhere, it’s brilliant,” as Cian Healy put it last month.

“I say what’s on my mind, you know what I mean,” Baird tells RTÉ Sport, as he discusses his involvement with the campaign.

“If I feel a certain emotion that somebody could relate to…I’d love to be able to use my platform to help people realise that certain things they might be feeling are felt everywhere.

Ryan Baird

“I’m lucky enough to have a platform when I’m with the national team or Leinster so I don’t mind speaking about it. Maybe I’m a voice for one or two people, ‘Oh wow, Ryan Baird is feeling that, that makes me feel a little bit better’.

“I noticed over the last two or three years the stigma, and it’s a global thing, has been breaking down [around] barriers for men to talk, particularly.

“Talking with someone gets it out of your head, helps you rationalise it, realise why it’s been nagging you in your head.

“Wellness is the hot topic and the moment and I would love if the resources were as accessible to everyone and this is a nice way through the schools programme to start that.

Baird has two Six Nations medals

“By giving these kids tools in first year, a huge year, third year, exams, fifth and sixth year, this is your Leaving Cert.

“You can give kids tools to start that journey a little bit earlier. If it helps a couple of people, that’s what you are looking for.

“It’s more repetition than anything, the more skills, the more times you can repeat positive affirmations or journaling or planning or talking to your friends, the easier it becomes.”

Coming off a Six Nations campaign, during which he won his 20th cap, Baird was back in action in a top of the table URC win over the Bulls last weekend and is preparing to take on Leicester in the last 16 of the Investec Champions Cup in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday evening (8pm).

Baird and Leinster lost last season’s final to La Rochelle in Dublin

He was a replacement in last year’s final when Leinster fell short, once again, to La Rochelle – their third final defeat since winning the tournament in 2018.

The European mission is also something that Baird is passionate about.

“It would just be incredibly satisfying that I’m rewarding the full season – or arguably two or three seasons – of hard work: getting up at early hours, going to bed, getting up early again and just putting in hard work,” said the 6ft 6in forward when asked what it would mean to get the job done this season.

“Getting the reward from that – really, that’s what it would be. It would be gratification from all that hard work. You’re only going to win it if you put in hard work.

“There’s no two ways about it. For me, it would just be a stamp of, ‘yeah, we f*****g worked hard for this and this is what we got as a result’.”

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Watch Leinster v Leicester Tigers in the Champions Cup on Saturday from 7.30pm on RTÉ2 and RTÉ Player, follow a live blog on rte.ie/sport and the RTÉ News app and listen to updates on Saturday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1


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