Munster – Fans and Transfers
In the past week or so, the Munster fan base has been questioned because of the poor numbers that were at the Champions Cup game against Treviso last Saturday. They were supposedly over 17,000 at the game a long way from the 26,000 you would get in the early days after it was redeveloped. I realise things have changed in the country since the heady days of the Celtic Tiger , coupled with fact Munster have not been as successful in recent years as they had been.
They were Magners League winners in 2011, beating Leinster in the Grand Final at Thomond Park. Since then they have had mixed fortunes while being consistent in making the knock out games in both Europe and in the Pro 12. This it seems isn’t enough anymore for certain sections of support. They feel we don’t compete at the top table anymore and that outside investment is the ultimate solution. While on the face of it outside investment is one solution another is letting things develop from within each of the Provincial structures and let the academies develop their own talent.
Connacht are a prime example of this , with players like Jack Carty , Robbie Henshaw , Ultan Dillane to name just three players that have come through the hands of Nigel Carolan in the Connacht academy. In Leinster , players like Cian Kelleher , Luke Mc Grath and Cathal Marsh have come into the Leinster set up this season along with Gary Ringrose from whom big things are expected. In Munster guys like Stephen Fitzgerald , Sean Mc Carthy and John Madigan have come through although the latter has suffered a number of niggly injuries in the recent past. In Ulster lads like , Peter Nelson and Sam Arnold have broken into the starting XV this season.
So the work been done at academy level is producing quality players all the time. Maybe not fast enough for people’s liking , In Ireland you are working from a very small player base that has to compete with the GAA , Soccer and a number of other sports. So please be fair to each of these academies and let them continue the work they have been doing.
Moving onto the Transfer system that the IRFU employs , it allows each of the provinces to sign 4 NIQ’s or Non Qualified Irish players to me and you. Munster were the latest team to fall foul to this particular agreement in the past few days when they approached them to rubber stamp a move for Stephen Moore the Australia skipper from next season. David Nucifora the man in charge of all the transfer activity in Ireland decided against this particular move as he felt it would block the development of the Hookers in the current squad , namely Mike Sherry , Kevin O Byrne , Niall Scannell and Duncan Casey.
I can see the reason behind this move to block it although from a Munster point of view it is disappointing and they could have done with his experience as the leadership group within the squad has been decimated by the departures of Paul O Connell , Donnacha O Callaghan and the unfortunate retirement of Felix Jones. So Munster will have to look for new leaders like Conor Murray , Donnacha Ryan and CJ Stander. Yes it is annoying that the IRFU allow more flexibly with player transfers but it is the same for all of the provinces. Look at this way , would you rather the IRFU system or let each Province go into private ownership and the IRFU have no say so in what happens !!
This system was put in place so our National team could compete , take one look where French rugby is at the moment and you will see that while the Irish system has it faults , it has been to the benefit of Irish rugby , Joe Schmidt has delivered two Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015. Tell me honestly who wouldn’t mind a third title next March…
Cian Mc Gibney