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IRFU fighting losing battle


IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora (SPORTSFILE)

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora (SPORTSFILE)

IRFU Performance Director, David Nucifora (SPORTSFILE)

It couldn't have been just a strange co-incidence could it?

First up, Ben Te'o announced his expected decision to move away from Leinster next summer, thus thwarting the IRFU's intentions to have the New Zealander capped by the Autumn of 2017, in plenty of time for the 2019 World Cup.

What cast a shadow over the move was the reputed €600,000 Worcester Warriors, a barely mid-ranking English club, could afford to table Te'o.

For a man a long way from home, this was what the boys in 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' would have called a 'no brainer.'

He cashed in on a short career and accessed immediate availability for international rugby through his mother's English heritage.

Next up, Leinster's Sean O'Brien penned a three-year IRFU contract extension to keep him at Leinster until after the 2019 World Cup.

"He is a great example to kids out there playing rugby that the 'Leinster Pathway' system we have in place and the effectiveness of same in identifying and nurturing home grown talent from grass roots in Tullow up to the very top level of our sport, is working," said Leinster Chief Executive Mick Dawson.

This came as a 'pick-up' for Leinster in light of the decision of Te'o to move ahead of almost certainly declaring his international ambitions for England.

The message was clear. Leinster are open for business and "going in the right direction," despite the fact they have been removed from The Champions Cup after four rounds.

Finally, David Nucifora, the IRFU's Performance Director, made a rare media appearance to reinforce the unofficial company motto: 'Yes, we can.'

The problem with his ideas are that the big guns in Europe are moving ahead far more quickly than the IRFU.

This is all encapsulated in his opinion on Munster's pursuit of Wallaby captain Stephen Moore.

"Having a player that's still eligible to play international rugby that's going to cost a province a lot of money, is that the best use of the funds available, where he's going to be missing for a large portion of the season? Probably not.

"It'd be nice to have him, but for the whole year."

Nucifora hold the opinion the Irish provinces can still compete in Europe.

"We would all be more than confident, the provinces and ourselves, that we've got the players there to be able to still win European competitions.

"I have no doubt about that."