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"Irish" Rugby XV - A Team Of Irish Players Born Abroad

"Irish" Rugby XV - A Team Of Irish Players Born Abroad
By Jeremy Roberts Updated

'The Granny Rule' has largely been attributed to Irish football however our national rugby team has not been entirely guilt free when it comes to scouring the globe for top class athletes with a Gaelic bloodline.

We take a look at what an Irish XV could look like, comprised entirely of players born, bred and buttered a world away from the land of the late DART.

1) Tom Court

Born in Brisbane, Court qualifies for Ireland through his grandfather and made his debut in 2009. A Six Nations Grand Slam winner, Court was also part of the Ulster team that reached the Heineken Cup Final in 2012. Last summer he was a late call up to the British and Irish Lions

2) Richardt Strauss

Part of the IRFU's 'project player', Strauss joined Leinster in 2009 with the express intention of developing him into a future international on the three year residency rule. A South African U19 World Championship winner and Currie Cup winner, Strauss made his Irish debut in 2012 against his homeland, playing opposite his cousin Adriaan in the front row

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
3) Michael Bent

The New Zealander caused a storm last season when he was immediately selected to play for Ireland against South Africa having never been seen playing in person by an Irish coach. The selection raised many questions about Ireland's lack player depth however Bent has gone on the feature regularly for Leinster, ironically adding extra depth to his side's front row.

4) Mike McCarthy

Born in London, McCarthy began his career at Wasps before joining Newcastle, Connacht and most recently Leinster. He was finally rewarded for his hard work with an Irish international call up, ten years after turning professional, in 2011.


Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
5) Dan Tuohy

The Bristol born second row was convinced to swap Gloucester for Ulster in 2009 by then coach Brian McLaughlin, going on to feature prominently for the northern Irish club, playing in the 2012 Heineken Cup final. In 2010 he made a try scoring debut for Ireland against New Zealand in New Plymouth.

6) Simon Easterby

The Yorkshireman's Irish mother qualified himself to wear the green jersey, playing at underage level before winning his first full cap in 2000. Although never playing club rugby in Ireland, he earned 65 caps in an eight year international career, including two Lions appearances in 2005.


Brian Lawless / SPORTSFILE
7) Andy Ward

A Heineken Cup winner in 1999 for Ulster the New Zealand import moved to Ireland in 1994, making his debut in 1998. Ward endured some dark days in the Irish jersey, the late nineties weren't a particularly successful era in international rugby. His final cap came in the 2001 victory over France in Lansdwone Road, not a bad way to go.

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
8) Dion O'Cuinneagain

We can only imagine the difficulties O'Cuinneagain faced as a child during school role call in his native Cape Town. His Irish father was his ticket to international rugby here and he made his test debut in 1998 against South Africa in Dublin. He retired in 2000 having won 19 caps and represented Ulster and Munster.

9) Isaac Boss

The first player on our list to have an actually Irish granny, Boss was born in Tokoroa, New Zealand and debuted for Ireland in 2006. Originally with Ulster he joined Leinster in 2010, winning two Heineken Cups and was selected for Ireland's 2011 World Cup squad

10) Brian Smith

We had to dig deep into the archives to find a genuinely foreign born out half (Ronan O'Gara doesn't count, he's as Irish stew as anyone) but Brian Smith fits the bill. Born in Queensland, Australia, he is perhaps better known for his stint as England's attack coach under Martin Johnson. First played for Ireland in 1989, winning nine caps having previously played six times for Australia between 1985 & 1987.

11) Simon Geoghegan

Another blast from the past, Geoghegan was born in Knebworth and is best known for his try against England at Twickenham in 1994. Noted for being a stand out attacking threat in an otherwise uninspiring Irish backline, Geoghegan had spells at Bath and London Irish before a toe injury forced his retirement in 1997.

12) Rob Henderson

Born in Dover, Henderson began his rugby career at London Irish before spells at Wasps, Leinster, Munster and Toulon. A strong and powerful centre, he was an unlikely star of the 2001 Lions tour of Australia, forming a hugely effective partnership with a young Brian O'Driscoll. Henderson finished his career with 32 Irish caps and 3 Lions appearances.

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
13) Mike Mullins

A Limerick father qualified New Zealander Mullins for Ireland, debuting for his adopted nation in 1999. He won 16 Irish caps but his greatest success came in the red of Munster, playing in two Heineken Cup finals in 2000 & 2002.

14) Justin Bishop

The London Irish winger qualified for Ireland through his grandfather, making his debut 1998 away to South Africa. He earned 25 caps in a five year career with his final appearance the Grand Slam decider against England in 2003. In 2011 he became the attack coach of London Irish.

Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
15) Matt Mostyn

Mostyn continued the trend of foreign born Irish players debuting against their birth nation in 1999 when he lined out against Australia. He scored a hat trick in his second test and was played in the World Cup that same year. He faded into relative obscurity in the years following, eventually finishing his career in Connacht in 2008.


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