For some of those fringe players getting an outing in the Guinness PRO14 this weekend, this was a bad week. The same goes for a number of the U-20s who trained opposite the Ireland seniors at Irish Independent Park yesterday morning.
Due to circumstances well beyond their control, their options for a career in professional rugby have narrowed sharply. For two decades, the English Championship has acted as a release valve for aspiring Irish players deemed surplus to requirements back home.
Some have used it as a route back to the top, others to eke out a living. In a world where the gap between the four provinces and the Energia All-Ireland League is growing every year, it was a relatively soft landing from the juddering shock of being released.
While the Six Nations rumbles on in front of full houses and huge television audiences, the game remains in a fragile place once you scratch the surface.
The Saracens debacle shone a light on the lack of governance in the English club game and this week's announcement that the RFU are to cut funding for their second-tier competition in half is another blemish on the veneer of a seemingly successful sport.
The money second-tier clubs receive from the union has been reduced from £8.06m to £4.04m next season with no guarantees beyond that point. The decision has been described as ring-fencing the top tier by stealth, immoral and irresponsible by the clubs involved.
Club owners are furious about the manner in which the news was delivered, but their hands appear to be tied.
There are 25 Irish players playing in the division including one former Ireland international in Rodney Ah You, who lines out for Newcastle Falcons.
Some, like Kilkenny's Peter Lydon, have played across the division, others are on the rebound after being released by their province like ex-Connacht back-row James Connolly.
There was a time where Irish players with a decent CV would easily pick up Premiership or Top 14 contracts, but with the English and French games tightening their rules over overseas players to promote more home-grown talent and stop talent from across the world flooding the market, it is getting more and more difficult to get a club.
Currently, 17 Irish players play in the Premiership and there are six in the Top 14. Those relatively low numbers are of course partly down to the success of the IRFU in retaining the top talent at the provinces, but they also display a lack of demand.
The highest profile Ireland internationals can bat their eyes at the biggest clubs in the hope of increasing their value; the next tier down are finding the going more difficult.
One player with Test experience recently went to the market and attracted no interest before re-signing with his province. He is not alone.
Connacht's Tom Farrell is perhaps the most successful recent example of a player who went to the Championship to resurrect his career. After leaving Leinster, he spent a season and a half at Bedford before heading west and within 18 months of his return he was called up to the Ireland squad.
IRFU performance director David Nucifora speaks repeatedly about the union's development pathway, but for every prototype who graduates from school to academy to senior team and on to Ireland, there is another who is hit by injury early or struggles to mature in time to make the grade.
If the Championship ceases to be an outlet for Ireland's young players, then they will be forced to move further from home to pursue their dream.
You can earn a crust lower down the French ranks, while there is a growing contingent of Irish players heading to the new Major League Rugby in the States in the hope they can ride a train that currently features Ma'a Nonu and Mathieu Bastareaud as headline stars.
While those take up a big chunk of the salary cap, the Irish imports are battling locals for a slice of the pie and many have trouble getting a visa.
Others, like Paddy Butler and Harrison Brewer, are off in Japan where the money is good but the rules on foreigners mean they are competing for places with global stars, while props Oli Jager and Conan O'Donnell are playing Super Rugby in New Zealand where the money's not great but the experience will stand to them.
The provinces have squads numbering 50 or more players, but when they have everyone available the majority have no games to play in once the Celtic Cup ends early in the season.
The British and Irish Cup is defunct and, while the AIL remains an option, Nucifora couldn't get consensus on streamlining the competition.
Last year, he organised the Cara Cup in Boston for the provinces' 'A' squads to play the New England Free Jacks and each other. All of the games against the Americans were one-sided, while the provinces don't need to go to Massachusetts to play each other. It's no surprise it is not happening again.
When the internationals are back and the stakes are high, the next tier of players will be squeezed for game-time. Some will consider their options. When they do so this summer, those options will have narrowed sharply.
Irish players in the English Championship
Bedford Blues: Sean McCarthy, James Lennon. Cornish Pirates: Cian Romaine, Paddy Ryan, Rory Parata, Callum Patterson, Alex O'Meara. Ealing Trailfinders: Craig Trenier, Shane Buckley, Pete Lydon, David Johnston. Hartbury: Des Merrey. Jersey Reds: Alex Thompson, Conor Joyce, Mark Best, Jack Stapley. Newcastle Falcons: Rodney Ah You, Brett Cannon. Nottingham: Ben Betts, Oisin Heffernan, Danny Qualter, James Connolly, Gearoid Lyons, Sean Scanlon, Shane O'Leary.