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Looking Forward To Christmas ?

21st December 2005 By Munster Rugby

Looking Forward To Christmas ?

The demands now placed on the national squad players are impacting negatively on the competitiveness of provincial squads in Europe, according to Donal Lenihan writing in Wednesday’s Examiner

“In some respects, the demands now placed on the national squad players are impacting negatively on the competitiveness of provincial squads in Europe. The IRFU is now squandering the competitive advantage we hold over our closest rivals.” so says former Ireland international Donal Lenihan in the Irish Examiner.

An idea of what he is on about can be gleaned from the schedule irish internationals face in the coming weeks. Last Saturday, the Munster international contingent set out from Limerick at around 9.30/10pm on a three hour car drive to a Dublin Airport hotel in order to fly out to Lanzarote for a warm weather training camp. They will arrive back on Friday night, have Christmas Eve and Day to themselves and assemble again for squad training on St Stephens Day.

Lenehan contrasts that scedule with the set-up in France, “where all players are on a compulsory eight-day break. Trevor Brennan recently stated that he and his Toulouse colleague, Welsh captain Gareth Thomas, are looking forward to a well-earned skiing holiday with their families.”

So while Anthony Foley hawks himself around airport departure halls Brennan is off enjoying himself with his family.

Then in the space of five days Munster play Connacht (Tuesday) and Leinster (Saturday). They play Leinster on New Year’s Eve and on New Years Day assemble again for another National training camp. 48 hours after that ends they will set off for another airport and a flight to Scotland to play Edinburgh.

Lenihan goes on to say, “History has shown that the success of the provinces in Europe has a direct impact on the performance of the national side. That fact seems to be lost at present. It is time for everyone to pull together to ensure that both elements of the professional game in this country maximise the opportunity for success.”

And he concludes, “Those in authority in Irish rugby should recognise that at times, less is more. In order to extract the best from our players at provincial and national level over the vital period between January and March, our players would be better served with a compulsory break at this time of year.

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