IRFU set to review protocols after McCarthy's transfer to Leinster
Choose to stay
“Some players, reportedly, get twice as much money from French clubs. We have to make sure the environment is as positive as possible so they choose to stay.”
Sears also stated that Leinster’s targeting of Connacht players is not in the “best interest of Irish Rugby.” Schmidt responded with the “combinations” argument. “If Richardt Strauss is in the Irish team and he is throwing to Mike McCarthy and he is playing against Clermont and pushing behind Mike Ross or Cian Healy and he is surrounded by Seán O’Brien and Jamie Heaslip I think there is a fantastic continuity for the Irish rugby team right there.”
The dispute took another interesting turn when Schmidt revealed that McCarthy didn’t sign for Leinster in 2010 because Eric Elwood convinced him to remain in Galway. Elwood’s imminent departure and the ongoing search for his successor appears to have influenced McCarthy’s decision.
“I think (Eric) was pivotal in Mike staying,” Schmidt continued. “There is obviously going to be a new coach there next year. One thing that is not going to be is the same certainty that there was with Eric, for Mike.”
Schmidt did express sympathy for Connacht’s plight but the two-time European Cup-winning coach was livid that Sears’ comments calls into question Leinster’s reputation.
“Massively disappointed because we have done everything by the book.” He also made the point that Connacht wouldn’t be playing Heineken Cup rugby without Leinster’s recent success. “We would believe that we have helped Connacht build that team by helping them qualify for Heineken Cup [by winning it] which has got a lot of people excited.”
Sears, when offered the right of reply to Schmidt’s comments, said: “We have utmost respect for Joe Schmidt . . . It is interesting to note that he sees these actions as good for Irish Rugby, we would take a very different view that the constant targeting of our senior players, if allowed to continue, will have a detrimental effect on the IRFU’s desire to see four strong provinces representing Irish Rugby and producing players for the national squad.”
In a related issue, Connacht teenager Robbie Henshaw has signed a two-year contract. “His commitment to his home province is a credit to him, particularly in the face of strong overtures from other provinces while he has been a member of our Academy,” said Sears.