Leinster Rugby is a School Apart

February 23, 2011
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Why are Leinster so much stronger when it comes to Heineken Cup games than any of the other four Irish provinces? Well you can understand why Connaught are caught well in behind the blues in the race for European glory. The lack of any monetary leverage for the Mr Elwood and his backroom staff makes even a campaign in the challenge cup seem a reasonable achievement. But why are Munster out of Europe and Ulster barely through their group? While Leinster coasted through with large wins over Clermont and Saracens, neither of which are pushovers. Personally I feel the main reason is the school system that is currently working in Leinster.
Depending on how you view it, this system is draconically cruel, or the best talent producing machine we have. Firstly let’s look at the negative view.

The pressure on kids in rugby schools to be a ‘jock’ is tremendous. If you don’t play rugby, you’re a nobody. Also a lot of the teenagers are now taking dangerous protein supplements and nutritional acrogenic aids such as creatine. These are very damaging to the liver and teenagers shouldn’t feel like they have to take drugs for sport. Unfortunately this is very commonplace among rugby schools such as Clongowes wood collage and Blackrock Collage for example.

But despite all the negatives, the Schools still produce players beyond which Ireland, compared with say England’s playing numbers, should produce. If you look at the Irish team there are several players who would probably get into any team across the world. Brian O Driscoll would be an obvious one, and alongside him Jamie Heaslip, Stephan Ferris, Johnny Sexton, Paul O Connell, Luke Fitzgerald(pre-injury form) and Rob Kearney. Of these five played in the Leinster Senior Cup. Luke Fitzgerald(Blackrock), Johnny Sexton(St Marys), Rob Kearney(Clongowes), Brian O Driscoll(Blackrock) and Jamie Heaslip(Newbridge). This proves how the schools system really produces the players that allows Ireland to punch well above their weight in terms of playing numbers.

And as Leinster prepare for a home quarter-final. Ulster have to prepare for probably a very tough quarter final and Munster none at all. Shows that the schools system really pays the dividends.

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