Simon Hick column: Rugby needs to change to reflect the sport’s broadening fan base

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THE BIG DIFFERENCE between northern and southern hemisphere rugby isn’t so much what’s seen on the field of play, but more the appetite for broadening the game’s appeal.
Stephen Ferris was on RTE’s Against The Head on Monday night and it came up that he hadn’t come from a traditional rugby school, having paved his way to international and Lions stardom along the less familiar path of junior rugby.
Ferris humbly pointed out that he wasn’t the only one to do this, with Sean O’Brien and Shane Horgan both taking the same route. There’s a few others who successfully by-passed the schools system such as John Hayes and Alan Quinlan, but overall its a shockingly short list.
The fan base in Ireland may have broadened somewhat in recent years, but at underage representative level not a lot has changed. It’s instructive to look at, for example, the Ireland under 19 squad named before the France game earlier this year…………. see more at :-

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