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Traditional nurseries a good breeding ground, but the base is narrow

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Peter Smyth, Head of Elite Player Development at the IRFU

Peter Smyth, Head of Elite Player Development at the IRFU

SPORTSFILE

Peter Smyth, Head of Elite Player Development at the IRFU

You wouldn't need to have clear memories of Celtic's historic European Cup win over Inter Milan in 1967 to have picked up on its context. To have a winning squad, in professional sport, all born within 30 miles of your home base is unthinkable nowadays.

That stat gets trotted out from time to time, usually to emphasise the power of a group who have a strong sense of place. The further we are removed from it, the more romantic it becomes. Yet just two years ago the Ireland rugby team managed a vague imitation with their home win over New Zealand. Ten of the match-day 23 went to five schools within a few kilometres of each other.

If this was a club team - they were all, at the time, Leinster players - then it might be more appealing. For a national side however, spread over four provinces, it looks altogether different.