Tuesday 10 December 2019

Testing times for rugby's patrons

In his typically excellent piece, 'Boks schedule from hell to kill the golden goose' (Irish Independent, March 4), Peter Bills exposes the potentially disastrous effect that creeping greed within South Africa's rugby union will have on the well-being, longevity, quality and performance of the world champions, the Springboks.

The South African example tells Irish rugby that we should not kill our own golden goose, by forcing our top professional players to play an abusive quantity of Test matches.

My answer to this temptation is that the Irish Rugby Football Union must focus on quality, not quantity, of fixtures.

Ireland could maintain its (non-World Cup year) annual fixture list at about 11 Test matches, but the quality of fixtures would be excellent if we were to play only the world's top sides.

This policy approach can be achieved by Ireland using (in addition to the traditional summer tours) its three-match autumn international window to play each of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia every year.

This approach, of quality over quantity, can be achieved at the expense of wasteful fixtures against the third-tier rugby nations, which we usually play poorly against.

It is only by rigidly testing ourselves against the world's best nations in the sport that Irish international rugby will achieve its true global potential.

It is through quality of fixtures, rather than quantity, that this can be achieved in concert with the prudent welfare of players.

John B Reid
Dun Laoghaire, Co dublin

Irish Independent

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