IRFU set to review protocols after McCarthy's transfer to Leinster
RUGBY:Following the recent Mike McCarthy transfer from Connacht to Leinster, the current protocols that allow rival provinces to entice players will be reviewed by the IRFU.
“We do not believe the protocols are sufficient or serve Irish rugby well and I know the IRFU have recently discussed reviewing these in the near future,” said Connacht chief executive Tom Sears last night.
Earlier yesterday, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt addressed what he called the “misconception” and “misinformation” that has come in the aftermath of McCarthy’s decision to join Leinster on a three-year deal.
Sears claimed on Wednesday that Leinster have “persistently targeted” Connacht players in recent years.
Schmidt vehemently denied this: “To claim that we have persistently pursued Mike McCarthy is just false. I know that if you contact the IRFU they will say that we abided by all protocols. And those protocols set down are very, very clear.”
Jamie Hagan, Fionn Carr (both graduates of the Leinster Academy) and Seán Cronin moved from Connacht to Leinster in 2011, with Nathan White and Paul O’Donohoe going in the opposite direction.
Other former Leinster players – David Moore, David McSharry, Dave Gannon, Jason Harris-Wright, Mick Kearney and Kyle Tonetti – are contracted to Connacht.
“We don’t choose Connacht players,” said Schmidt. “Mike McCarthy is not the only Connacht player that is interested in coming to Leinster, Ulster or Munster. Players as individuals, they look for opportunity, be it within their own club or maybe elsewhere.
“It is no different than Nathan Hines going to Clermont. We are not particularly happy to see him and I think he played particularly well last weekend. Players make choices like that all the time. It is up to them.”
Unable to flourish
Ironically, Hines’ departure last year created the current secondrow problem at Leinster as replacement signings from South Africa – Steven Sykes and Quinn Roux – have been unable to flourish because of injury.
Schmidt was also adamant McCarthy’s decision was not, in any way, financial. Despite impressively replacing Paul O’Connell in the Ireland number five jersey last month, the 31-year-old has not been upgraded to an international contract (however, the switch to Leinster may speed up that process).
“It is not financial,” Schmidt continued. “Again, a misconception that was in a newspaper today is that we can offer better bonuses. We can not offer anymore financial incentive than what Connacht set as the margin or the base. We can only match the base that they set up.
“So, there is a lot of misinformation about this particular issue that’s frustrating for us because it paints us in a bad light.
“One of the challenges for Connacht is to build an environment where people choose to stay. It’s challenging when important players leave but they have some exciting young players there, if they can keep them interested; it is no different to the challenge we face every year when we are doing contracting.”