Rugby

'I Feel Like A Bit Of A Plastic Paddy Myself'

'I Feel Like A Bit Of A Plastic Paddy Myself'

The residency rule set down by World Rugby has been the subject of much discussion in Ireland in recent days after Luke Fitzgerald admitted it "pisses you off" as a player when someone born in foreign climes is picked ahead of you for Ireland.

The rule allows any player who's been playing in Ireland for three years to pull on the green jersey - Bundee Aki for example, who will be eligible to play for the country by next November.

Ireland manager Joe Schmidt is quoted in several of the papers today talking about the issue (Schmidt has taken out Irish citizenship himself). One of the pieces quoting Schmidt is an excellent piece by Peter O'Reilly in the 'Sunday Times'.

Schmidt says the current crop of players are in favour of the rule and underlines the big step it is for a player in the modern era to commit to a country for three years of what is an increasingly short profession.

My perception is that there are a couple of people who have been outspoken about it but...the majority of people want Ireland to be as competitive as they can be. That includes the players. If you spoke to the current team, they would want the best players available.

The average professional rugby career would be about five years probably? The best players go a lot longer than that but for a player to commit three years to qualify somewhere is a pretty big commitment. at the same time, in our current squad, what number are we talking about? Indigenous players still dominate, massively.

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And Schmidt admitted that he still wrestles somewhat with his own identity, while interestingly admitting that an indigenous player might get the nod if a selection decision hangs in the balance:

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't conscious of it. It is difficult for me to comment on. I feel a bit like a Plastic Paddy myself...I do think that if it is not a clear-cut decision you would tend to favour the indigenous player. I do. But I do believe that players want to be as competitive as they can be. And I am charged with the responsibility of trying to help whoever is available for Ireland to be the best team they can be.

(Sunday Times)

SEE ALSO: Watch: Johnny Sexton Explains The Famous Photo Of Him And Ronan O'Gara

Conall Cahill

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