University of Limerick gets nod as Reds abandon twin-base training system
MUNSTER will base their main squad training centre at the University of Limerick from the start of the 2014/15 season.
The news that UL's tender had won out over bids from the Limerick Institute of Technology and the Cork Institute of Technology was broken to the players yesterday morning. Future new signings will be urged to base themselves in Limerick.
From a professional standpoint, the decision has been a long time coming. Munster's twin base of operations is unique in professional rugby and has been viewed as a point of weakness by a succession of coaches in recent times.
Indeed, former captain and forwards coach Jim Williams recognised that having the squad split up for training was hindering their progression as far back as 2005.
Former Munster coach Tony McGahan actually made it a condition in his last contract negotiation that the concept of twin bases would be scrapped.
The decision to move training to Limerick was ratified at Munster Branch executive level earlier this week.
The new state-of-the-art, dedicated facility located on the UL campus will be purpose-built and is anticipated to be fully operational by 2015.
There is a danger that the new Limerick base for the players might disenfranchise the rest of the province, but it is hoped Cork's Musgrave Park will be upgraded in the future and Munster Rugby will maintain its administration headquarters in Cork.
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Three Pro12 games and two pre-season friendlies are usually played in Cork every season and it is anticipated that trend will continue.
"In looking forward to this new and enhanced association with UL, we acknowledge the interest we've had from LIT and CIT, the two other institutions who sought to accommodate Munster Rugby's need for this facility," said CEO Garrett Fitzgerald.
"We look forward to continuing a working relationship with LIT and CIT in the coming years through projects ongoing and new."