Alan Quinlan on why Donnacha Ryan is right to be peeved with IRFU decision to let him go
Former Munster and Ireland legend Alan Quinlan have made a big mistake in letting Donnacha Ryan leave Munster for Racing 92.
Ryan donned the Munster jersey for the final time at Thomond Park in Saturday's Guinness PRO12 semi-final victory over the Ospreys before he joins Ronan O'Gara in Paris.
Despite a lack of options in the second row, the IRFU did not offer Ryan a central contract, allowing the big-spending Top 14 side to swoop in.
The decision means that we are unlikely to see Ryan figure for Ireland again given the IRFU policy of favouring home-based players over those who decide to pursue their career abroad.
For Quinlan, writing in today's Irish Independent, Ireland are missing out on a player who could have done a job for Joe Schmidt at the Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019, despite the fact that he will be 35 by the time the tournament comes around.
"Donnacha Ryan tried his best to bow out at Thomond Park with minimal fuss, that is him to a tee. Even though he received a fitting send-off, I couldn’t help but feel that it shouldn’t have happened this way.
"Donnacha doesn’t owe Munster or Ireland a thing. He is fully entitled to one last big-money move before he hangs up his boots, but there is no doubt in my mind that if he keeps up this kind of form he would be good enough to go to the World Cup in two years’ time.
"For me, the writing was on the wall when he was left out against Australia last November and then when he was dropped for the Six Nations game against Scotland.
"The IRFU decided not to offer him a national contract, which forced Munster’s hand. The province’s offer was well short of what the union could have put on the table and, as a result, he had his head turned by French club Racing 92.
"You can’t just hand out national contracts based on sentiment, but that isn’t the case here. Donnacha is worth his place on the Munster and Ireland team now and should be in two years.
"Unfortunately, we have probably seen the last of him in a green jersey. Although never say never, I actually agree with the IRFU’s policy of not selecting guys who move abroad. If you started to do that, it would open the floodgates. We can’t afford for that to happen.
"I’d imagine he is definitely peeved off with the IRFU’s decision – and who could blame him? He has just had one of the best seasons of his career, if not the best. On Saturday he gets a chance to top it off with another medal.
"Racing are lucky to be getting a player of his quality and it leaves Munster with a massive hole to fill. It’s highly unlikely they will be able to find a replacement of the same quality. Will whoever Munster sign have the same desire and passion? I doubt it.
"Munster have made such massive strides under Rassie Erasmus and he will hope that this doesn’t dent any of the progress that has been made.
"Donnacha is the last old school member left at Munster and it is sad to see that era ending."