Ireland profit from rugby's three-year residency rule more than most, but that has not swayed Donal Lenihan's opinion of the rule. The former Irish international appeared on Game On on RTE 2FM this evening, and claimed that the rule is "farcical", and needs reviewing.
In case you're unaware, a rugby player can become eligible to play for their adopted country within three years. While we've missed out on Ruan Pienaar by virtue of the fact that South Africa have long since realised how bloody good he is, we've profited greatly from the rule. It has allowed Jared Payne, CJ O'Stander and Richard Strauss qualify to play in green, with Bundee Aki due to qualify soon.
Lenihan, however, believes that the rule needs changing.
I’m absolutely against it, I think the rule is farcical.
I think there are so many players from the southern hemisphere adopting a badge of convenience at international level that it’s getting to embarrassing proportions.
What’s happening, in practice, is that players from the southern hemisphere who aren’t making it within their Super 15 franchises are travelling to the northern hemisphere; they are being paid way more money than they would be within their domestic game.
After three seasons they get the added bonus that they can play international rugby when it was deemed that they were never good enough to play for their own country in the first place.
I think the three-year rule is far too narrow.
Lenihan also argued that he would prefer to win with a home-grown Irish team, rather than "six or seven players from overseas".