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Is now the time to move on creating a British and Irish league?

Is it time for the IRFU to step outside their local power zone and make a few bold business decisions for the future of the professional players under their control?

To be fair to the IRFU they have made brave calls in the past. Most notably at the time of the start of the professional game in Ireland when a few heavies stepped in and saved our standing by creating strong teams in the name of our provinces.

Now I feel it is time for action again.

Professional sport is one of the biggest industries in the world today. Players are the most important and main ingredient in this industry. Full stop. We recognise that player power can be divisive and destructive, however the business is about quality, money and profit.

Money helps to achieve a successful product –—success opens the door to investment and sponsorship — and this in turn helps to bring money in for development and so goes the cycle if managed properly.

A rugby player, like most sports people, has a limited career time. A professional rugby player needs to focus on his earning capacity to reflect his ability and contribution to the success of the team.

Medals and cups do not provide a living or security going forward. Yes it will always be an honour to wear the jersey and indeed captain the team. However in the professional sports fields of today I reflect on a statement from a top high profile Cork GAA player during the time of the strike. “it is an honour to wear the red jersey, but the real honour is winning in one”. Winning is the aim in the professional world of sport

Do the IRFU really see the PRO12 league providing the necessary financial packages for our top players?

Unless Denis O’Brien and Dermot Desmond, two of our declared billionaires, get involved I cannot see a sustained level of top players staying at home.

The money and business orientated league is in England and France. The CEO of Munster Garrett Fitzgerald recently hit the nail on the head when in an interview he said maybe we have to consider a British and Irish league?

At present we have four teams who can enhance the English league with their contribution on the field.

If we don’t follow up his suggestion, we may as well re-introduce the Interprovincals for part-time professionals.

Jim Hennebry


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