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What Are They At ?

18th February 2005 By Munster Rugby

What Are They At ?

Read with interest a piece in the Irish Examiner a while back asking why there were no teenagers coming through to the Irish side.

Read with interest a piece in the Irish Examiner a while back asking why there were no teenagers coming through to the Irish side.

Read with interest a piece in the Irish Examiner a while back asking why there were no teenagers coming through to the Irish side. In the article the example was given of Matthew Tait who made his debut for England against Wales aged nineteen. The article went on to ask why Ireland couldn t do likewise ?

I think the match itself or maybe the performance of the individual in question provided the answer. He wasn t ready and should never have been out there in the first place. He was like a rabbit caught in headlights, the poor chap had a nightmare. Afterwards someone said, I think it was Andy Robinson, something like, he did some good things, he passed well. Can you believe that ? A guy plays in an international and the coach says he passed well. Forget his age, the least you expect is that he can pass well if he is going to play for his country.

You d have to feel sympathy for the goshuin because he didn t actually buy his way onto the side or use some influence to get there. He was selected by an adult (?) remember Tait is only a teenager – based on his own evidence and probably the advice of another adult (?) Rob Andrews, Tait s coach at Newcasle.

Which makes me wonder where both have their heads buried for much of the year.

Then Robinson rests him for the French game no-one gets dropped anymore, that went out with the third last set of rule-changes so you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe Tait s confidence is not exactly brimming over.

But he goes back to the comforting arms of coach Andrews in Newcastle who immediately begins the process of re-building the young lad s confidence. It s a tricky business, re-building confidence, especially in a teenager. Especially after the teenager has been watched by millions being a muppet.

So Andrews does it tenderly. In a weakened Newcastle side in Welford Road. For Tait, after the first mistake, there is a second, a third follows quickly and a fourth. Two of those leading to tries, fourteen points to Leicester thanks to a missed tackle and the purchase of a schoolgame dummy by a lad not long out of school. At half-time, Newcastle are 34-10 down and the confidence reconstruction exercise continues when Tait appears for the second half.

Leicester add on a further 49 points and the young centre cut a dejected looking figure every time the tv camera panned to him. Why did the coach leave him on for the duration of the game ? Is it because he s been paid big bucks ? A character building exercise perhaps ? Maybe Newcastle are financially strapped and don t have the players ?

According to the Examiner article, if you re old enough, you re good enough. Yeh right but you have to grow up to grow old. Maybe Rob Andrew should just grow up.

Peter Noonan Newbridge, Co Kildare.

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