Friday 28 October 2016

Schools decision is hard to fathom

Published 10/10/2015 | 02:30

The IRFU has decided to end the Irish Schools team
The IRFU has decided to end the Irish Schools team

The IRFU has never been slow in extolling the virtues of schools rugby, often citing it as their bedrock.

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Well, at last Monday's meeting of the Leinster Schools Committee it was reported that the IRFU have taken the decision to do away with the Irish Schools team as the vital entity it has been since first taking the field against England at Lansdowne Road in 1975.

The intention is that from this season, Ireland will field two combined Schools and Youths (club) A and B sides.

It is the understanding of the schools committee that these squads have already been selected following the various inter-provincials completed last month.

Bearing in mind that there has been no consultation whatsoever with the schools or the committee representing its interests, this decision is viewed as part of a wider plan set out by the new High Performance Unit within the Union to target elite players within the schools system.

Where once a schools inter-provincial call-up was something to which every schoolboy aspired, now the number of teams and screening programmes post-Junior Cup (U-16) has all but taken the gloss off the achievement, with the bottom-line intention now to catch the best emerging talent younger and earlier.

It is a principle fraught with danger, resulting in some of the bigger and longer-established schools shunning the honour for the blatant talent-spotting and academy recruitment drive it now is.

With these points in mind a special meeting of Leinster schools will be held on Monday in Belfield.

Irish Independent

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