Rugby

Nucifora: IRFU Have 'No Intention' Of Changing Overseas Selection Policy

Nucifora: IRFU Have 'No Intention' Of Changing Overseas Selection Policy

After what has been a fairly miserable 12 months for the Irish rugby team, many are calling for the IRFU to reconsider their policy on selecting overseas players.

They have long avoided picking players who play their club rugby away from this island, with a number of quality players not considered for Ireland as a result. Simon Zebo is the most cited example at the moment, with many believing he could be the man to solve Ireland's issues at fullback.

You can see the logic in this IRFU policy. They want the best players to stay in Ireland, and considering they are often unable to match the financial packages on offer abroad, the promise of international rugby is often enough to make the big names stick around.

However, the policy could come under scrutiny in the coming months.

A number of big name Ireland players are out of contract at the end of the season, with the likes of Johnny Sexton, Peter O'Mahony, CJ Stander, and Tadhg Furlong just some of the names coming to the end of their deals.

Due to the current financial climate caused by coronavirus, the IRFU have yet to negotiate any new contracts. This leaves players in limbo and some could now be considering offers from abroad.

Despite the potential loss of a number of star players, the IRFU are unlikely to reconsider their policy on overseas. That is according to Performance Director David Nucifora, who said earlier today that changing their selection criteria was not on the agenda:

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No, we've got no intention of doing that (changing policy) at the moment.

The position we're in, at the moment, is the position we've been in all along. If players choose not to play their rugby in Ireland, it's unlikely that we would select them.

It's not a hard and fast rule. There's no hard and fast rule about that - we've never had one - but our attitude towards it wouldn't change.

We'll be selecting (from) the players that stay here and play for our provinces.

Their resolve on the issue could be tested if a number of high profile players opt to move elsewhere, but that is a situation the IRFU will be hoping to avoid.

Nucifora says that they hope to open negotiations with players after the Christmas period...

We have put player contracting on hold up to this point in time...

We have been very diligent in working through that, it's been a long, slow process but we've done that in communication with Rugby Players Ireland and kept them informed at all times of where things are at and where they're up to, so that players remain briefed on the situation...

We would hope there is some light at the end of the tunnel and that we will be in a position just on the other side of Christmas to hopefully have solutions that will enable us to start looking at our ability to sit down and contract our players going forward.

SEE ALSO: The Game Is In 'Nursery School' And Ireland Still Risks Falling Behind

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Gary Connaughton

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