Ireland great suggests changes to ‘unfair’ IRFU system in the wake of RG Snyman’s transfer saga

Colin Newboult
Former Ireland and Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan and current Munster and South Africa lock RG Snyman.

Former Ireland and Munster lock Donncha O'Callaghan and current Munster and South Africa lock RG Snyman.

Former Ireland lock Donncha O’Callaghan believes that the current system is weighted too heavily in favour of Leinster.

The Dubliners are currently the strongest province in the country by far and their squad will only get better when RG Snyman joins next season.

Snyman’s deal has caused huge controversy, with Munster supporters especially unhappy that he has signed for their arch-rivals.

It has raised questions over the structure of the game in Ireland and O’Callaghan is surprised that the Irish Rugby Football Union let the move go through.

The former second-row insists that the governing body “need to be fair to all provinces”, rather than getting to a situation where one team is dominating.

Denying opportunities for Irish players

“I can’t believe that it was signed off (by the IRFU) and how it was allowed to happen. I would question the structure of the funding model,” the former Munster second-row said on RTE Sport.

“Last week, I watched the European Cup and the outstanding second-row, bar maybe Iain Henderson and Tadhg Beirne, was Jack Dunne of Exeter.

“But he’s playing in England and we’re allowing RG Snyman to go up the road and take up game minutes from Irish players.

“It’s a contradiction in what we’re trying to do. We say that we’re trying to develop a pathway for Irish players and for me I think this blocks it. It’s quite frustrating.

“If you look at pure economics, I don’t think Munster survive at this level. We’ve seen it happen in other sports, especially in Ireland, where we end up with a dominant force, and that will be around the affluence, it will be around the economy structure of where the majority of the money is.”

O’Callaghan says that keeping central contracts in place is the way to go but is adamant that the system does need revising.

“If we continue going the way we are, and rightly so with central contracts…When I look at when we were centrally contracted, there were way more contracts,” he said.

“I want the players to get as much money as they possibly can. I know the restrictions that are there on the IRFU, but it needs to be fair to all provinces.

“Of course, you want Leinster to be successful. But this is a marquee signing. When they can go out and outbid the likes of Bath and other teams around (the world), it is a real money flex.”

The IRFU have reduced the number of central contracts they hand out to players and former Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman admits that it is currently “lopsided”, before adding: “Leinster have way more central contracts.”

However, Jackman insists that Munster have to take responsibility in how they grow their squad and improve the team’s depth and quality.

“The central contract thing is for Munster to get better value out of that. They need to either recruit people, like they did before with Tadhg Beirne, who got a central contract,” he said.

“Oli Jager may take Tadhg Furlong’s central contract. Or you develop Jack Crowley, Brian Gleeson, so they will get the next batch of them.

“The only way out of it is to either recruit or develop.”

Signing star players

Jackman doesn’t believe that bringing in marquee should be off the table either and feels that Munster should have been given special dispensation to keep hold of Snyman.

“You should be allowed to sign players of RG Snyman’s quality. Go back to when we were signing Christian Cullen, Rocky Elsom, Ruan Pienaar, that’s where we should be going,” he added.

“I feel really sorry for Munster in that they were made to tell RG Snyman they couldn’t keep him, and the reason they had to tell him they couldn’t keep him was because Jean Kleyn became a foreign player again.

“The rules are you’re not allowed to have two non-Irish qualified players in the same position. I actually think the IRFU should let that one slide and let Munster keep Snyman in this situation.

“It was a freak set of circumstances and I understand why they’re hurt. I would say let them go and replace RG Snyman with a world-class player in a different position.

“These fans, as well as Leinster, Ulster and Connacht fans, deserve to be coming to see two or three marquee players help to make the difference.”

READ MORE: Springboks lock RG Snyman put ‘money pathway over reputation’ with shock Leinster move