THE ONGOING ROW between Connacht and Leinster following Mike McCarthy’s decision to join the Heineken Cup champions continued Thursday evening with the Connacht CEO, Tom Sears, hitting back at comments made by Leinster coach Joe Schmidt earlier in the day.
When asked if he was disappointed Leinster’s reputation had been questioned, Schmidt replied:
“I’m massively disappointed because we’ve done everything by the book. Mike is certainly not the only player to express an interest to come to Leinster. I mean that’s a natural thing, to a degree, where there is one team that is consistently performing at the top end.”
He went on to say he believed that Leinster’s success over the last number of years has actually benefited Connacht.
However, in a statement this evening, Connacht’s Tom Sears made it clear he didn’t agree with the Leinster coach.
“We have the utmost respect for Joe Schmidt and what he has achieved at Leinster. Joe is perfectly entitled to his views and we wouldn’t expect him to say anything else.
“It is interesting to note that he sees these actions as good for Irish Rugby. We would take a very different view that the constant targeting of our senior players, if allowed to continue, will have a detrimental effect on the IRFU’s desire to see four strong provinces representing Irish Rugby and producing players for the National Squad.”
In relation to approaches to players, Sears had this to say:
“Regarding comments made on the protocols to approach players from another province, we do not believe the protocols are sufficient or serve Irish Rugby well and I know the IRFU have recently discussed reviewing these in the near future”
The IRFU may well have more than just approaches to players to worry about in the near future if this row continues to rumble on.