Leinster Sign McCarthy

Mike McCarthy has signed for Leinster for next season, in what’s bound to be a controversial and emotion-stirring move.  On the surface it looks like Ireland’s biggest and most successful province has gone poaching the best player from the weakest and least resourced, which doesn’t look very nice, but it’s worth taking some time to see if that is the whole story.

First of all, it’s necessary to say McCarthy is a terrific signing for Leinster.  He’s exactly what they’ve been looking for to fill the Nathan Hines-shaped void in their second row.  He’s a superb footballer, he’s tough, he’s experienced, he’s in his prime, he’s a tighthead-side scrummager and he’s really, really, ridiculously good looking (in fact, maybe he’s more of a replacement for Trevor Hogan than Nathan Hines).

But is it fair game for Leinster to go and take him off Connacht?  First of all, Mike McCarthy is out of contract at the end of the season, so he is not bound to Connacht, and is entitled to move to any other team that chooses to offer terms – he’s a free agent. Secondly, he is (naturally) entitled to get the best deal for himself and his career.  He’s now an established international player and his stock has never been higher – playing with Leinster represents a chance to compete for silverware and enhance his international credentials.  Connacht are having a good season and are improving, but there is no guarantee they’ll be in the Heineken Cup next year – and, at any rate, Connacht players have not been popular under the present international management – moving to Leinster has something of an international insurance policy about it.

Is it fair to compare McCarthy’s move to the experience of Carr, Hagan and to a lesser extent Cronin since making the move from west to east?  Well, McCarthy will be going to Leinster as a first team player, and an important one at that – the other three came as backup (at best), with an understanding that further development was required.  The media coverage of Carr, Hagan and Cronin’s Leinster careers has at times been bewlidering, painting them as hopeless backups who would have been better staying put. Yet Cronin gets regular match-time and has been a success with Leinster. Admittedly, Carr and Hagan have not – but they have hardly helped themselves by performing so poorly.  Leinster currently have an outside-back injury crisis – had Fionn Carr shown any sort of reliability or try-scoring form he would be starting against Clermont this weekend.  But he hasn’t, so he isn’t.

So it checks out on the player’s side, but what about the big meanies from Dublin 4?  Have they behaved appropriately?  Judging by Connacht’s press release, they appear to think not.

But to answer this, you have to look at the structure of Irish rugby.  The provinces are in active competition with one another, not collaboration.  You can argue the rights and wrongs of this, but that being the playing field, Leinster are perfectly entitled to offer terms to an out-of-contract player.  It appears this is something the IRFU are trying to fix, and according to Peter O’Reilly’s recent scoops, the newly appointed Director of Rugby will be responsible for managing the spread of talent among the provinces and increase the levels of co-operation between them.  This can only be good for Connacht; the IRFU might encourage the likes of Lewis Stevenson or Ian Nagle to travel West were it in place now.

It’s worth going back in time to when Nathan Hines did leave Leinster – Munster at the time had the top 4 Irish second rows in the country, judging by the international pecking order – Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Micko and Donnacha Ryan were the second row forwards selected for the 2010 November internationals. If there was an overarching Pro Rugby Tsar, he would probably have asked Ryan (4th in the Munster pecking order) to move to Leinster to replace Hines. So if Ryan were playing for Leinster now, McCarthy might not be moving!

The IRFU centrally contracts some players, and from what we can gather from this shadowy process, encourages them to locate where they have the best chance of first-team rugby, but McCarthy does not appear to have been offered a central contract.  He’s been offered terms by Leinster rugby, so the IRFU (who Connacht say they tried to recruit to keep the player at Connacht) probably couldn’t do an awful lot.  Unfortunately for Connacht, they probably weren’t that pushed either, and presumably have no qualms about McCarthy playing at the highest level, where he will be a guaranteed starter.  Connacht have always been under-resourced by the IRFU, and Leinster probably know that if they go fishing, they will catch.  That is unfortunate, but it is the system that is in place –for now at least – it’s the IRFU who choose to under-resource Connacht.

So while one does feel for Connacht in losing a player that they have developed and brought to prominence, there is movement in the other direction.  Connacht were the beneficieries of Leinster’s scouting when they signed sturdy tighthead prop Nathan White this summer.  It would be no surprise to see a couple of Leinster’s younger players pitch up in the west next season (Jordi Murphy for example), and perhaps one or two of those signed from Connacht in the last couple of seasons will return there.

We don’t expect Connacht fans to be happy about the news.  Munster fans will probably be even more unhappy, but should probably ask themselves how they’d feel if David MacSharry signed for them tomorrow.  For Leinster fans, the news is massive, going a long way to shore up what looked a significant hole in their squad.



  1. “So if Ryan were playing for Leinster now, McCarthy might not be moving!”

    yeah he would, just to Munster 😦

  2. It is naturally disappointing for Connacht to lose a player of McCarthy’s quality but it is the nature of a professional sport that players with ambition move to higher-achieving clubs. Just as Jennings and Cullen did by moving to Leicester. Or Bowe did by moving to Ospreys.

    Connacht fans willfully ignore the fact that Cronin, Carr and McCarthy are not Connacht developed players. It also seems a bit hypocritical to ignore the fact that the Leinster academy supplies a lot of good players to Connacht, which has helped Connacht develop as a club. You can’t have it every way.

    As a Leinster fan, I am delighted to get a quality second row like McCarthy to fill the very glaring gap in that position at Leinster. It is definitely bad for Connacht but the faux opprobrium being directed at Leinster is a bit rich to be honest.

    • That’s a bit lopsided CE. Sure Carr et al were signed by Connacht, but they were not first team starters, nor were they wanted by Leinster – they were cut adrift. Tonetti was signed from Sale, Moore from Harlequins, Carr wasn’t offered a contract, nor Hagan.

      The anti-Leinster backlash from some Connacht fans isn’t helpful, but neither is the sense of entitlement of some Leinster fans (see the IT article comments section). The anger might be a bit rich, but pretending the quality of players moving in each direction is comparable just doesn’t match the facts.

      • Nobody is pretending Connacht gets Leinster’s first pick. The point is more that Connacht has still done very well out of the Leinster academy – the influx of young Leinster players has definitely helped develop Connacht. In a professional era, this is very fortunate for Connact to be able to have first refusals on Leinster’s lower rung players. You cannot have it every way in the professional game.

        Leinster should never have signed Carr or Hagan but not out of fairness to Connacht, rather because they were bad signings. That players like Carr, Cronin and McCarthy want to go to a club that has a chance of winning the Heineken Cup is totally normal. That a team that has ambitions of success wants to sign the best players is also normal.

        As Irish fans, we should instead be happy that these players are not going abroad – as was happening 7 years ago (Bowe, Reddan, Cullen, Jennings, Murphy…the list goes on).

    • Chogan

       /  December 12, 2012

      Leinster is a province not a club.

      Provincial teams represent the clubs within their province. It is not possible to join any province as a club member but it is possible to join the supporters club associated with each province as well as buying a season ticket.

      Pet hate but it undermines our club game.

      Great to see Mike coming to Leinster. Wonder what club he’ll join.

      • The provinces are professional teams or franchises playing in professional competitions. A rose by any other name…

      • Chogan

         /  December 12, 2012

        Names do matter. The provinces need the clubs. Only a few exceptional backs have not needed the infrastructure of the club game in assisting their progression from school to the professional ranks.

        The name defines the Histroy, tells a story. The Lions only works because of the history. If it wasn’t for our Dads sending us to rugby schools while bringing us to mini rugby in the clubs the health of our game would be piss poor.

        The provinces by their nature are exclusive. The clubs are the very fabric on which our game exists. Lose the province the clubs remain, lose the clubs and watch the whole thing crumble

        Look at Scotland and Wales. Forced regional teams that are at odds with their rugby heritage.
        Counties could have worked in England but the RFU were weak and felt the quick and easy way to hit the ground running was to let the big clubs do what they liked when the game went pro.
        France was always going to be clubs. They’ve been paying players since Adam was a boy.

  3. Is this the most high profile provincial movement in Irish rugby? The only other I can think of was Boss the Leinster and his standing wasn’t particularly high at the time.

    The almost weekly drip-drip of internationals out of Wales for the past year should make us feel pretty lucky about Irish provincial rugby.

    You can understand the Connacht fans bitterness about the move, given that he’s a player that’s come through out West rather than an effective “loanee” like Cronin etc., but this a move that makes total sense for both McCarthy and Leinster.

    And if you start trying to block players from leaving Connacht it jeopardizes their chances of picking up talent from the other provinces. How would you persuade Jordi Murphy to go West for gametime without the genuine option of a return?

    I don’t think Munster fans will feel particularly strongly about the move.

    • Ro – thats the heart of it. As Irish fans, we should all be happy that McCarthy is staying in Ireland. As I point out above, only a few years back, we were losing players with ambition to UK clubs.

      • Connacht being weakened while a competitor is strengthened is what Connacht fans are bitter about, not some altruistic notion.

      • Come on ummm, the Connacht whole argument is based on an altruistic notion: namely that the IRFU should somehow intervene and overrule the realities of the professional game…and block players with ambition from moving to better teams.

        Connacht does quite well out of the Irish province set-up and it is a bit rich to want to have it every which way.

      • I’m not pleading Connacht’s case, just pointing out it’s much easier for fans of the most successful team to think of what’s best for everyone.

      • To be clear I cringed when I read Connacht were trying to get the IRFU involved.

        But while a bit whiny I’m really pleased with the press release. Gerry Kelly always preferred to avoid rocking the boat, Sears looks like someone who isn’t afraid of get stuck in.

  4. Len

     /  December 12, 2012

    This is a great signing for Leinster and as a Leinster fan I’m delighted as the second row has been a real concern of mine this year. At present we have 5 regular second rows those being Browne, Cullen, Denton, Roux and Toner. Of that group Cullen looks to be on his last season (and possibly a season too many), Browne who, while he adds heft at the scrum and breakdown, moves at a glacial pass, Denton looks good but isn’t getting enough game time, Roux looks like he could be a real prospect if he can stay injury free and Toner who has improved IMO but is still struggling to nail down the starting berth. Adding McCarthy will assuming he continues in the same form, leave these 5 fighting for the second spot. The idea of a Roux (assuming he’s fit)/McCarthy second row partnership is very appealing and would increase the general speed of play in the pack. It’s just a pity we have to wait till next season, I’d love to see what Mc would do against Clermont

  5. RedLiging

     /  December 12, 2012

    I’d happily take McSharry. I have no qualms about McCarthy signing for Leinster, and your points are perfectly valid. Infact truth be told I don’t really care, good work and best of luck to the both of them. The only issue I would raise is the one of ‘overarching Pro Rugby Tsar’. Would you maybe feel that such a position would negate the status and history of the clubs and turn them into franchises. When Ryan re-signed for Munster with his central contract he said himself he only wanted to play there. Could you not make an issue of saying that that sort of alterations from above shifting players to the other provinces depending on their needs isn’t always for the good of the player? I’m open to disagreement and in keeping with Mole’s article about Ryan Caldwell and Ian Nagle it’s better to have them playing than not at all.

    • @RedLigind – you’ve raised a very important issue and it’s one worth taking some time to think about. Each of the provinces (including Connacht) has a strong sense of identity, which has really been pivotal in their growth and success. A cursory glance through the comments section on this blog would tell you how strongly fans feel attached to their province. So there’s definitely a balance to be struck in trying to ensure talented players’ career paths aren’t blocked when they could prosper at another team, and potentially diluting the strong identity and home grown look-and-feel of the provinces.

      It’s also vital people remember that – as per your line about Donnacha Ryan – the players are people with roots, families and friends who have probably grown up wanting to play for their home team and not robots who can be put on a bus and told to leave their home and live and play for a different team.

      • Playing time is key Dom Ryan, Murphy and Ruddock two seasons ago were a fair bit ahead of say D O Callaghan, O Mahony and Butler of Munster but the Munster lads have been exposed more and are developing quicker. I defiantly think there is a surplus of players in provinces especially Leinster and Munster.

  6. The fact that it is Leinster is clouding the issue somewhat. Many want to paint them as the bad boys, the bully taking a small kids lunch money, but it’s easier to have a panto villain than look in depth.

    I’m very disappointed that we’re losing Macca. Not because of who we’re losing him to, but because of who he is and how much he has been part of the improvements we have made. My fear is that next year could see the start of retrograde steps, not a continuation of the improvements that have marked the past two years. That this is about to be the start of an exodus as others move on.

    In a way, it could even be argued that playing in the Heineken Cup has been dangerous. Players have tasted it now and won’t be too excited with the prospect of the Amlin when it comes to renewing their contracts.

    Connacht seem to constantly live on a knife edge in terms of viability and players like Macca gave the fans some sense of stability. To lose him is understandable, but very worrying in terms of what long term effects this will have.

    • Thanks ummm, for some very salient analysis. Very interesting point about the Heineken Cup experience being dangerous, and not something that had really occured to us.

      • On top of that, if Macca’s signing makes Leinster stronger, this actually makes Connacht’s chances of being in the HEC again stronger.

        I would be wary of taking anything a large proportion of understandably upset Connacht fans say to heart right now. This will die down. And when it does we’ll be able to take stock if what is really going on and what, if anything, this means for Connacht.

      • Bowe Gathers

         /  December 12, 2012

        Surely you’d have to argue, without being trite, that a taste for the top tier will only drive a more hungry campaign in the Amlin? On board with everything else, Umm, especially about the point made above Connacht biting back in press release form; that little bit of whingeing is a move in the right direction, and it’s what top class managers all over the world do (Alex Ferguson).

        To reverse the situation, imagine the bitching if iMads were to be sent Westward to replace/aid Dan Parks. The likely outcry would prevent any Czar bar Solomon going through with such a move, despite its potential benefits to both the player, the team and the overall health of Irish rugby (please note this is an illustration not a suggestion, although I’d like to see him starting ten somewhere than playing 15 or not at all) . .

  7. Chogan

     /  December 12, 2012

    Players from Connacht want to play for their home province too. Duffy and O’Connor could have gone elsewhere on their return from “The Premiership” but chose to go home. The issue is that Connacht’s player base is still tiny. The good news for them is that the more Henshaws and Marmions they get the stronger the sense of being and pride in where the team is from will slowly boost all aspects of the game.
    For Connacht’s sake, those players are the ones they must keep and for Ireland, four strong teams sounds a lot better than three.

    • Len

       /  December 12, 2012

      I’d agree four strong provinces is a better option than three both for the player pool and development of the game. The success Connacht have had in the HC in turning the sports ground into a graveyard for the big European teams will help with developing the pride and passion in the next generation of Connacht players. Long may the success continue and improve. Is it too much to hope for an all Ireland semi finales in the HC?

  8. Leinsterlion

     /  December 12, 2012

    “Munster at the time had the top 4 Irish second rows in the country………………..judging by the international pecking order” Nearly made me spit my lunchtime coffee out over that one WOC 😉
    Excellent news on the McCarthy signing, the talk for months was that we were signing one of the innumerable exNZ second rows on the market. This is a far better option for Leinster and Irish rugby as a whole.
    Even though Connacht are extremely irked:

    “It is disappointing they(Leinster) have persistently targeted Connacht players in recent years, particularly when often not in the best interest of Irish Rugby.”

    Hopefully Toner is sent out wesht in a swap to develop into an international class second row(to salve bruised egos as well). He will be below McCarthy, Roux, Denton and Browne based on current and past form, if he stays.
    WOC you are spot on about more player movement out wesht, but I think Jordi will be taking over from Jenno sooner rather than later so him leaving isnt a viable option.
    However the weshties should have the pick of our pint sized backs. The likes of Macken, Hudson should be sent , Flanagan would also benefit from a move.

    • Jimbob

       /  December 12, 2012

      Too right re Jordi, he’s had a cracking start to the season and was 24th man in Clermont while Rhys (although he was captain), Dom Ryan and Auva’a were playing for the ‘A’ team.

  9. Look at Leinsters probable first team match day 23 next season it will feature Strauss, Cronin, Bent, Ross, McCarthy, Boss, Reddan and Nacewa none of these players were born in Leinster or came through their academy, seven of these are Irish qualified and six will regularly feature in the Irish squad. Of those six bar Reddan none of these would have played for Ireland regularly so moving from province to province or leaving to another country and coming back to another province has its benefits.

    BUT five seasons ago Ulster won only one game in the pool phase of the Heineken Cup but managed to hang onto key players like Best, Trimble, Wallace and Court who are know helping Ulster conquer Europe and helped hugely in the development of younger players in their province so you could argue if McCarthy stayed he could have really helped the fantastic group of Conancht youngsters find their feet in the Heineken Cup in the next 2 to 3 seasons.

    People are a little dismissive and under estimate Connachts potential.

    • I think this is a touch over-optimistic. Ulster were certainly rubbish a few years ago but they have a great support base, were funded to recruit the sort of players Connacht could never attract and had a golden batch of youngsters coming up the ranks.

      But most importantly, there is no guarantee Connacht will even be in the Heineken Cup for the next two or three seasons, let alone finding their feet there. They’re in it because of what Leinster have done. Don’t forget that for all Connacht’s progress (and they have made a lot) they are still 10th in the Pro12.

  10. Seiko

     /  December 12, 2012

    WOC: “Connacht players have not been popular under the present international management”

    Wasn’t McCarthy capped while at Connacht (much to the annoyance of many who thought Tuohy should have been selected instead?) And then wasn’t Cronin first capped while he was at Connacht and dropped while at Leinster?

    I think the selection criteria was to have played at (and do well at) Heineken Cup Level rather than it being anti-Connacht selections. John Muldoon, Gavin Duffy, Ronan Loughney have all been capped by the present Ireland management.

    As for McCarthy – you can’t blame him wanting to play for a high profile team coming towards the end of his career. Best of luck to him.

  11. Lamo

     /  December 12, 2012

    This argument’s been in sport for decades. It’s great for Leinster and, if McCarthy improves as a result, it’s great for Ireland. McCarthy obviously thinks it’s great for him too. It’s shit for Connacht, but in my opinion they’ve been babied along with the exemption to recruitment regulations – if Leinster could go sign a better NIQ player for the same price and as little hassle they would.

    Maybe Connacht think that if they keep McCarthy they can qualify for the Heineken Cup off their own bat. Personally, I think it’s far more likely they sneak in the back door by virtue of another province’s success, and in the case of Leinster it’s more likely still with McCarthy in a blue jersey. Connacht are big and ugly enough to realise how this works. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

  12. I think the issue most Connacht fans have is not with the fact that Macca is leaving- I wouldn’t begrudge him the move, where success is more likely and think he’s obviously an excellent addition to a callow Leinster second row- but instead, Connacht fans, myself included, see this as just another example of our province being marginalised. Connacht Rugby isn’t just a convenient plaything for the other provinces, as is often alluded to, it’s a province with it’s own support and players committed as any other. The patronising attitude taken towards Connacht rugby belittles all supporters of the province, but also is harmful to Irish rugby as a whole. A strong Connacht province is something all Irish rugby fans should strive towards.

    • With all respect, Connacht has a pretty sweet deal with the Leinster academy and the province’s viability in a professional environment is (in no small part) thanks to the goodwill of the rest of those involved in rugby in Ireland. If you refuse to accept this, that is your prerogative but that is the reality. Yes it is good for rugby to be played at the top level across Ireland but don’t kid yourself that Connacht would be viable without the current prop-up it gets. Sorry but that is the harsh reality.

      So, back to thread, it is surely natural that players like Cronin, Carr, Hagan or McCarthy – who joined Connacht from other rugby clubs – will also leave Connacht. It is really impossible to understand what Connacht fans expect to happen here. The IRFU should stop players moving to more-successful clubs? Get real. This is not in the interest of Irish rugby, the players or either province (in this case).

      Get over it and rejoice when you get first dibs on players like Mark Flanagan/Devin Toner or Jordi Murphy/Dom Ryan, who have been totally educated for professional rugby by Leinster and will be a great addition to a Connacht squad.

      The faux opprobrium from Connacht is really a bit rich and does nothing to gain empathy from a naturally sympathetic rugby public in the other provinces. Basta.

      • Anonymous

         /  December 14, 2012

        What a poor attitude.

        It’s all very well to start harping on about “harsh reality” but it’s a complete misnomer. Do Leinster pay the wages of BOD, Sexton, Heaslip, Darcy, Healy etc? No. The IRFU do. Central contracts. So before the bleating starts about Connacht’s supporter numbers, lack of HEC success and so on, it’s worth bearing in mind that no province operates in a truly free market situation, where the only factors determining their fortunes are their own success on the pitch and in the accounts ledger. All are part-funded by the IRFU, all are backed by a massive organisation in the way that English or French clubs aren’t.

        Have a look at the 02/03 Celtic League table. Did Connacht finish above Leinster? You bet. Did they get HEC rugby the next year? Of course not. The IRFU put Leinster into the HEC, because they thought that would bring the greatest rewards. The same with Humphreys when he took over at Ulster , saying to the IRFU “invest in us and we will repay you with success”. They did, and now Ulster are starting to deliver. Did Ulster deserve extra help and money on the basis of their results? No (and I say that as a long-suffering Ulster supporter), but the IRFU saw the sense and it has strengthened Irish rugby.

        The provinces are all subsidiary to the national team. And Mike McCarthy going to Leinster significantly weakens Connacht, and moves us a step back from having four competitive provinces.

        It’s all very well playing the hard-nosed “you need to deliver” card on an internet forum. The reality is very different, with the IRFU in the wings, driving things for the national game.

      • @Curates egg. It’s patently obvious that there isn’t respect for Connacht Rugby, as is evident from the attitude of some towards Connacht. Why should we “rejoice” being a glorified feeder team? No one in Connacht wants that, and nor should anyone else around Irish Rugby. So why would any Connacht fan think that we have a sweet deal? We have an mediocre deal at best, but who amongst supporters strives for mediocrity? Once again my issue isn’t with any individual moving from Connacht, I’m under no illusions to that. and i’ll accept that it will happen again and unfortunately probably not before too long.

  13. I’d imagine the Bosman ruling would be equally applicable to rugby if any this IRFU interfering carry on started. McCarthy is at the end of his contract and as a professional rugby player is entitled to follow the best offer. It’s a great get for Leinster in a problem area, good for McCarthy & nice for me cos Dublin just got at least 20% more handsome.

    I can see why Connacht fans would be upset. Hell of a player to lose & being offered another bright young thing must seem like scant replacement for the finished article. But them’s the breaks in a the modern game. As alluded to by ummm, there is no point painting Leinster as the big bad in this scenario but there does seem to be a certain attitude among some that Connacht should stop complaining and it would be great for some other Leinster or Irish players at other provinces to be sent to do a spell out Wesht, with the eventual aim be that they come back stronger. It’s understandable that Connacht don’t want to be seen as a nursery. Given their recent strides, should they still be viewed as some sort of developmental set-up?

    Also if they want to capitalize on this improvement, losing one of your pivotal players is a set back., especially when he’s come up to through the province, and is in the form of his life with caps & international recognition to boot. Given all this, it’s unsurprising there’s been an emotional reaction that will probably take a backwards step or two after things have cooled down.

    • gibbsey

       /  December 13, 2012

      You are right about the Bosman ruling, the IRFU could not interfere even if they wanted. I also believe the provinces would have a case in a European court about the limits on NIQs as long as these players are from SA, Fiji, Tonga or Samoa. Would certainly be bad for the national team though!

    • The Bosman ruling is an interpretation of EU law applicable only to EU citizens as I understand it, so not relevant to non-EU nationals as far as I know. Employment lawyers will correct me though. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bosman_ruling

      • gibbsey

         /  December 13, 2012

        I am know expert myself but as best as i can interpret, there was an extension (amendment?) to the bosman ruling that citizens of countries with a particular arrangement with the EU were to be treated as EU citizens. Its how they ended up with London Samoa and Sara Africa. Very much open to correction on my point regarding NIQ quotas though http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolpak_ruling

        • The Kolpak ruling essentially says if a non-EU citizen is entitled by a bilateral agreement to work in one EU state, he/she can work in them all – nbamed for basketball player Marius Kolpak, but has resulted in piles of South Africans playing county cricket in England.

          The Bosman ruling applies to out of contract players, so I don’t think is relevant.

    • Either may given McCarthy is London-born it’s a non-starter in this situation. And I’d imagine it’s very much the Irish players that would be affected by any IRFU interference given the NIQ ruling means provinces will be desperate to hang onto them. So it would apply I would think. But I’m no legal expert!

  14. zdm

     /  December 12, 2012

    This whole situation has come about because of the IRFU’s ridiculous NIQ scheme – Ulster have Captain Yoplait in the second row and Leinster have managed to hobble themselves with Roux so now the rest of Ireland has to get by on what’s left. The only HC standard lock who has no ties to Ulster or Munster is McCarthy (Ryan Caldwell is the best Irish lock not playing for an Irish province but is probably not HC standard and Leinster are unlikely to stomach an Ulster hand-me-down)

    I understand what the IRFU are trying to do with the NIQ rule but the system is not fit for purpose and they seem willing to ignore their own rule when it suits – Captain Yoplait has been handed a contract extension even though his time is up according to the NIQ scheme. This is probably in part due to the fact that he is a key player in Ulster’s resurgence but also due to the fact that there just aren’t enough HC/international standard locks in the country. If Muller had been told to sling his hook, Leinster and Ulster would both be down a lock with only McCarthy realistically able to fill either slot. The easiest solution is to let Ulster keep Muller until NWJMB eats all his spinach, move McCarthy to Dublin and use the Connacht tax avoidance scheme to parachute another NIQ lock down to the dog track.

    Ulster and Leinster are happy, Connacht complain but nobody listens and everybody east of the Shannon goes home happy.

  15. Anonymous

     /  December 13, 2012

    ” ridiculously good looking” Lol

  16. As good a player as Mike McCarthy is, he’ll never be as handsome and philanthropic as Trevor Hogan (he’s shorter too)!!!!

  17. Neil38G

     /  December 13, 2012

    I’ve posted a few comments yesterday as I was upset and pissed off with loosing Mike Mc, I’ll see him in Biarritz tomorrow night and shake his hand and wish him all the best. I was screaming for him to be capped for the last 2 years. Anyway its great to see the passion and anger from the men/women out West and why shouldn’t we fight our corner. This has to be seen from the point of view of being “asset stripped” the season before we got HC and yes it was thanks to Leinster and I was at the final shouting for them. We take a few steps forward and seem to loose a great player or two. What I hope this brings is a sense check with the provinces to send some real potential out West to get game time and not guys they won’t give contracts to. You guys like Dominic Ryan, Rya Ruddock and Ian Nagle should take a look at themselves and think that game time will move them on. We have a great academy and have won the inter-pro U-20 recently beating ALL so enough about this Leinster development bullshit, from a small base we are producing some great talent, average age of the team last week was 25. A fair crack of the whip would be nice but I really think the players in the big 3 on the up but not getting game time (B&I cup is NOT HC) should want to play and play they will with Connacht. And we want our bloody song back as well, feck off Munster and find your own ;-0………..Away win tomorrow night in Biarritz and a big drink with Mike Mc.

    • Anonymous

       /  December 13, 2012

      I could have sworn that Ulster won the U20s Inter-pro with a Grand Slam. Having said that, that doesn’t detract from your point about “Leinster development bullshit”, so as you were.

  18. Thanks for all the comments on this, guys. I think it’s probably been one of the most intresting comments sections we’ve had on the blog; it’s the sort of topic where we can really see where both sides are coming from, and understand just how upset Connacht fans are.

    Interesting chat about it on Off The Ball last night too, including the Connacht CEO talking about it. I’d recommend anyone who missed it listen to the playback. http://media.newstalk.ie/archive

  19. Just read that both Munster and Ulster recently tried to sign Robbie Henshaw.

    Ok, now I’m angry.

    • Seiko

       /  December 13, 2012

      ummm, not worth getting angry about. I seem to remember Luke Fitzgerald threatening Leinster that he was going to Munster (who would have had him) if they didn’t give him a proper contract (and not an academy one)! Leinster duly obliged. Heshaw probably had every agent in Ireland (and outside it) making calls for him. Neither Ulster or Munster are going to say they are not interested.

    • Stevo

       /  December 13, 2012

      I’d be pretty annoyed with that too. It’s one thing a guy who’s 31 years of age and has given years of service to the province wanting to finish out his career somewhere where he has a good chance of winning some medals. It’s quite another thing for one of the shining lights of your youth system who has just broken into the team and is beginning to make a name for himself to be tempted away.

    • Chogan

       /  December 13, 2012

      Well if Robbie was playing for Westmeath, is there not a case for Leinster to take him? Strange that one.

      • I don’t know what club he is, but Buccanears are based in Westmeath (Athlone) but come under the Connacht branch is that right?

  20. Chogan

     /  December 13, 2012

    Athlone sits on the border between Leinster (Westmeath) and Connacht (Roscommon). Robbie went to The Marist and played for Buccaners. Both are located on the eastern side of the Shannon and therefore in Leinster.

  21. Mary Hinge

     /  December 13, 2012

    Schmidt being disingenuous in this afternoon’s press conference. What’s he trying to infer: that McCarthy approached Leinster rather than vice versa? Nonsense.

    • Chogan

       /  December 13, 2012

      Ah now. I’m sure McCarthy has an agent and that Mike told him to explore all options. Mike would have then vetted those and made a decision. Leinster may or may not have made first contact.
      It is very probable that McCarthy made first contact given he nearly signed 2 years ago.

      • I think Schmidt’s issue was Leinster having been described as ‘continuously pursuing’ the player, when he followed all the protocols.

        I’m not sure the Connacht CEO has covered himself in glory. On the one hand, he probably needs to be seen to make a noise and is hoping that by appearing aggrieved, the IRFU will try to compensate them in some way. But his continued assertion that McCarthy moving is to the detriment of Irish rugby is really neither here nor there. He says he wants the protocols reviewed but what does he want exactly? That Connacht players not be allowed to sign for other provinces? But players from other provinces can sign for Connacht? I just don’t think that’s workable.

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