The reaction to the retirement of Jamie Heaslip has certainly been mixed. The overwhelming sense was an obvious appreciation for the enjoyment Heaslip gave for both Leinster and Ireland with a tinge of sadness that injury ultimately forced a premature ending. However, elsewhere, there was some pent-up grievance concerning Heaslip's central contract.
In February 2017, Jamie Heaslip signed an IRFU central contract until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Soon after, Donnacha Ryan announced he was leaving Munster and Irish rugby in favour of a move to France.
While they are two separate positions, today several online commentators aired their grievance that the money went to Heaslip over an in-form Ryan. It is likely the IRFU saw Henderson, James Ryan, Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux as better long-term prospects but nevertheless, Ryan himself confirmed last month that it was not a financial decision.
Speaking on Second Captains, Ryan denied a superior offer lured him abroad.
SC: Were you upset you didn't get a better offer?
Ryan: No. In the end, it was definitely not a financial decision.
SC: So there was a bit of battling and then you did get an offer that would have been acceptable?
Ryan: Yeah, that's the reality. It goes through your head like. They're great, the IRFU are fantastic and they are trying to run a business. Players are trying to run a business as well. That's what they are, they are all sole traders. People sometimes take away from that and then these things are blown out of proportion. At the same time, you look and fast-forward two years in time and there is that emotional attachment of wanting to stay in your home as well but it's probably the best thing I have done. I appreciate Munster and Ireland so much more now. All the days we've had, it is great. At the same time, I'm trying to build skills for when I am going to finish playing rugby at the same time because you have a career to deal with after you are finished.
On the same day, he spoke to Off the Ball and again confirmed his reasons for going abroad, while revealing he had looked at moving abroad earlier in his career too.
In the end, from my contract point of view, there was no difference between staying or going.
Ryan later discussed his time studying Geology and learning French in two highly impressive interviews. It seems, as far as he is concerned, there is no issue with IRFU decision-making at the time.