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Pity for rugby

I have been watching Irish rugby teams for 45 years or more. I have learnt two things: the players have always been valiant and committed; the management narrow-minded and conservative. I hoped that professionalism would have cast off the shackles of petty provincialism, it did not.

Leinster and Munster thrive as provinces in Europe but fail to coalesce for Ireland. Declan Kidney is displaying the same kind of myopia that cost Eddie O'Sullivan his job. He cannot see beyond a tiny pool of players. Just 18 wore green in Six Nations. It is a disgrace that a player with the transforming passion and strength such as Donnacha Ryan has to wait until he is 28 to get a start.

It is patently clear that far too many players are amassing a multiplicity of caps, with their best days far behind them. Will Simon Zebo have to wait until he is 30 to start for Ireland?

We learnt nothing from the cracks that were clearly visible in the World Cup, Though under-achieving consistently, players still strutted about, trading off undeserved reputations.

A little bit of grounding and a large measure of humility and honesty would go a long way. The English did us a favour.

I have never seen an Irish side being pitied before but that is what happened on St Patrick's Day. Having annihilated us in the scrum the English showed compassion with the penalty in the last minute, electing not to go for the jugular, but to take a kick. All Irish players should freeze-frame that moment. "Ice in the mind, fire in the heart."

Not in a green shirt.

Ed Toal

Dublin