Irish Team – Aki Included

Ireland Team Named – Aki Included

So the Ireland team to play South Africa has been announced with Bundee Aki included in the 23 for the first time. His inclusion in the 38 man squad for these games has come in for criticism with a number of ex players voicing their concerns about how the regulations make it easy for certain “project players” as they have been called to get called up to their adopted nations national squads.

Rory Scannell has missed out on an opportunity to get more caps this November although injury could intervene and he may yet get the chance to add another few caps to his collection. Aki has abided by the rules set down by World Rugby and will now earn his first cap a special moment for any player against South Africa this Saturday at 5.30pm in the Aviva Stadium.

This particular rule has angered everyone as everyone has an opinion whether it is in favour or not in favour of this rule. Now World Rugby have acted in the face of mounting criticism and extended the residency rules from 3 to 5 years. This move will now all but end the idea of any player going to another country and playing for that National side.

Many people have an opinion on this particular aspect of rugby and yes it is flawed and you can be sure it does anger players whether they would like to admit it or not. A small number have come forward and been honest enough to admit there true feelings on the subject in the aftermath of their careers.

You can be sure that Bundee Aki will give his all on Saturday for the green shirt and the subject of his nationality will be the focus of many questions in the aftermath of Saturday’s test match. Many teams now have a number of players who were born outside the country they choose to represent. Quade Cooper was born New Zealand but plays for Australia, in Ireland over the years we have had many players who were capped that were not born in this country and although they may have had a grandparent or parent born in Ireland , they were not born in Ireland and the “ Granny Rule “ was used to great effect by the Irish football team over the years and nobody once complained  about Tony Cascarino , Ray Houghton or Mick Mc Carthy playing for Ireland.

Jonathan Walters a player that many supporters will identify with wasn’t born in Ireland yet he has been taken into the hearts and minds of every Irish football supporter. He wasn’t born in Ireland but people ignore that fact because he plays with his heart in his sleeve for Ireland.

The point I am trying to make is can people please wait until after Saturday to make a judgement on the inclusion of Aki in the Irish side to face South Africa. Yes this rule has its flaws but the IRFU for all its faults did nothing wrong and abided by the rules by letting Joe Schmidt select Bundee Aki in the squad….


Cian Mc Gibney


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