Irish Players Moving To Rival Provinces Set To Become More Frequent
We could finally start see more player moving to rival provinces thanks to the IRFU.
Over the last few years we’ve seen this become more of a common practice with players moving within Ireland in order to gain some playing time. John Cooney for example, recently benefitted from Ruan Pienaar’s departure by moving from Connacht to Ulster.
In the past a number of players have left Irish shores due to the competition within their clubs, when a move to another province would have been more beneficial. You only have to look at the likes of Chris Farrell who left for France, but is now back in Ireland with Munster, and Tadhg Beirne with the Scarlets, who’s reportedly set to sign for Munster next season after initially leaving Leinster.
Other examples over the years include Ian Madigan and Marty Moore. A move to Connacht or Munster might have been better for Madigan and would have kept him in Ireland contention. While Moore would have been no doubt welcomed at Ulster for example.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora says players in Ireland are starting to see the benefits of their player welfare system. A number of players in England, including Billy Vunipola have recently stated they would strike if the season was increased, with Vunipola saying he would gladly take a pay-cut to play less games, showing that it’s not always about the money on offer in England and France.
“I’ll believe it when I see it, a pay-cut, but it does make a statement that that’s how players feel. Our best weapon to the greater amount of money that exist in UK and France is the welfare system.” Nucifora said yesterday
The players won’t come out and tell you that, but when we sit down to talk contracts that’s at the front of their mind, they know we care about them, that we manage them and that investment is for all parties. And that makes a difference for us to be able to compete with the bigger chequebooks.
“For us, the investment in (sports science and injury prevention) is money really well spent because it does have an outcome for us.”
In relation to players moving within provinces, Nucifora reckons if the IRFU keeps going the way it’s going, we’ll see it become a more common practice.
“If we can keep creating that sandwiched pressure on the playing group – retaining the best, bringing the best back through IQ (‘Irish Qualified’ Exiles programme), developing from bottom up – when that squeeze comes, there are only so many opportunities within provinces to play.
“I guarantee you now players look at the four provinces and say: ‘look, where will I get the opportunity?’ So we’ve artificially created that pressure to look.
“Occasionally, they’ll pop out and go somewhere else because they can’t find that opportunity. Through IQ and Joe, (we) monitor them and stay in touch and, in time, they can be one of the boys who bounce back in — (we have) only got four teams and a Sevens team. That’s what we’ve got to work with.”
“We’re doing everything we can to create that competition that ultimately makes the player make a choice, maybe that logjam there will lead to that movement.”
Would you like to see more players move within the provinces?