Ian Costello believes efforts should be made to align Irish rugby’s competing calendars to ensure young players get both high-quality ‘A’ rugby and regular game time in the Energia All Ireland League.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner this week, the Munster head of academy said he would like to see emerging talent in the province given blocks of A rugby as a team as well as time with their individual AIL clubs.
Four academy players are in the matchday squad for this evening’s Musgrave Park URC clash with Zebre Parma and others have been released to their clubs for the opening round of league fixtures but Costello has been restricted in giving them collective minutes in terms of match preparation and actual games.
“We’ve had a couple of development games over the last few weeks that are critical,” he said. “I want all our players to play as much AIL as possible but I’d also love them to have some good, really high quality A games and I don’t mean ones sporadically every six or eight weeks.
“They need to learn how to play as a team, how to preview opposition, how to get better week on week and what it’s like to play in a Munster shirt within a certain system and structure.
“They’ve had some game time in the last couple of weeks in a Munster shirt and that really helps, as does Eoin O’Connor having 18 games for his club last year and Pat Campbell playing so many games for his club last year before going into the Irish 20s. So it’s about balance.
“I think they can exist together with minimum disruption if we’re shrewd and smart in the way we design a season. I see a place for both but I don’t see a need for them to conflict with each other.”