Thursday 27 July 2017

Tony Ward: I have found Bundee Aki's 'who will I play for?' approach puke-inducing

3 January 2017; Bundee Aki of Connacht watches on during squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
3 January 2017; Bundee Aki of Connacht watches on during squad training at the Sportsground in Galway. Photo by David Maher/Sportsfile
Ireland's Jared Payne. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

Like the rest of the civilised rugby world, I rejoice at the extension of the three-year residency rule by World Rugby to a minimum of five but I long for the day it is abolished altogether and qualification is by birthright alone.

To that end the IRFU are already blazing a trail through a new IQ (Irish Qualified) programme tracking Irish-qualified players around the world.

Former Rugby League star Joe Lydon is heading up the new IQ Rugby programme aimed at scouring the globe for Irish-qualified players. Just how much more preferable would it be to have, as Lydon suggests, "five-deep in every position for Ireland, whether they come from Birmingham in the UK or Birmingham, Alabama, so long as they are Irish-qualified".

Much though I admire Bundee Aki the player, I have found his 'who will I play for?' approach to international rugby puke-inducing.

A handy route to a green jersey should not be used as a carrot to sign a provincial contract - ever.

And with all due respect to Jared Payne, CJ Stander and others of that ilk, criticism of the madcap system that has prevailed up until now is NOT personalised criticism aimed at them.

We have benefited as much as any from the three-year rule but give me those players of Irish descent who want to come back and play for Ireland by choice.

Whatever else 'Plastic Paddies', they are most definitely not.

Irish Independent

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