Project players will only make Irish rugby stronger

Project players will only make Irish rugby stronger The best thing any coach can do after naming their World Cup side is run for cover as fast as they can. […]

Project players will only make Irish rugby stronger

The best thing any coach can do after naming their World Cup side is run for cover as fast as they can. Throughout the course of history, there has never been a time when a country is in entire agreement over the players selected to achieve world domination. It probably just comes down to human nature and the fact that people are prone to having opinions and feeling hard done by. After all, how can anybody possibly know better?

It’s an amazing phenomenon as the players now out of the side are all of a sudden world-beaters and the ones on the plane to the World Cup have become ‘bog standard at best.’ Maybe it’s also a case of wanting to be heard and joining in the conversation, the latter being perfectly understandable and even good for the game.

It’s an amazing phenomenon as the players now out of the side are all of a sudden world-beaters and the ones on the plane to the World Cup have become ‘bog standard at best.’ Maybe it’s also a case of wanting to be heard and joining in the conversation, the latter being perfectly understandable and even good for the game.
There is another scenario, however, that will attract even more of the public wrath and that is when a coach picks a player who only became eligible to play for their new home country a couple of weeks before a World Cup, over a player that was born there. That’s right, we’re talking about South African born Jean Kleyn being selected over the long-serving Irish lock, Dev Toner.

 

A large chunk of the Irish media were up in arm over the selection with all the usual arguments being passionately made about how Ireland should focus on developing homegrown talent instead of giving big contracts to those born away from these shores. At this stage, the gripes over the project player system are not altogether unwarranted but the current logic behind them is predictable and quite simplistic.
Speak to any rugby fan from around the globe and they will tell you more money could always be pumped into the grassroots level in order to nurture young talent. That side of the argument is universally agreed upon and ultimately fair, but to then protest the inclusion of players that will make Ireland stronger is short-sighted.

It’s not like these players live their lives away from Ireland either as it is based on a residency rule of being in the country for three years before you are eligible for selection. Like Chris Farrell said after the outburst surrounding Kleyn’s selection, that in actual fact the project players have had a fantastic impact on Ireland and their communities after integrating so well.
So not only are these players living in Ireland and contributing positively to everyday life but they’re also making the Irish rugby team better than it was. The question should probably come down to whether Ireland want to win a World Cup or have a team of just homegrown players? It is unlikely that they can have both at this stage.

Instead of a narrative of dismay, there should be one of joy at the fact that Ireland are heading into a World Cup with a very talented side that is ranked number one in the world. In fact, if punters want to get great odds on Rugby World Cup 2019 then they needn’t look any further than those of Ireland’s 8/1 to win. Some may shoot that down though. Many will indeed refer to the fact that after eight attempts, Ireland have never got through to a semi-final never mind winning the tournament, but with a mixture of Ireland’s best and a scattering of world-class talent, things could be different this time around.

 

You could argue that after so many failures at the World Cup it was high time Ireland actually looked for a way to bring in the calvary in order to get over barriers that have remained uncleared since 1987. Whether everyone agrees or not, that’s exactly what has been done and for the first time in 32 years, the Irish look like genuine contenders to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.