NZ Journalist Launches Scathing Attack On Ireland’s Recruitment Policy

“Not quite right.”

New Zealand journalist Gregor Paul has taken aim at Ireland’s recruitment policy ahead of this weekend’s huge Test encounter between Ireland and the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Paul has said Ireland’s recruitment policy is “harming” world rugby and that deep down “it’s not quite right” and the players know it. He has described the IRFU’s recruitment as “cold, calculating and ethically questionable.”

“Last week it was former Hurricanes captain Brad Shields who guest-starred for the opposition and this week in Dublin, it will be former Chiefs midfielder Bundee Aki.” Paul writes in the NZ Herald

“One minute a player is a club teammate, the next he’s an international foe and no one it seems can easily get their head around that. It’s probably because not many players want to confront their true feelings about this because deep down they know it’s not quite right.”

Paul says Ireland searched the globe for a centre when they knew Brian O’Driscoll was retiring, bringing in Jared Payne and then Bundee Aki, something he describes as “entirely within the laws” but outside the spirit of the game.

“Aki makes for a particularly interesting case study as he owes his presence in Ireland’s midfield to a rather cold, calculating and ethically questionable recruitment policy by the Irish Rugby Football Union.” Paul continues.

“No one can believe surely that recruitment of this sort doesn’t in some small way damage the integrity of test rugby?”

“But of course rugby’s code of omerta ensures that the subject is glossed over.”

“The players know that it’s easier to shrug and say that’s just how it is and seemingly embrace the novelty of it all. For what else can they do?”

“To speak out runs the risk of causing trouble for everyone – shining a light on the ugly parts of the test scene doesn’t help sell tickets, win sponsors, attract broadcasters and ultimately keep the gravy train chugging along.”

So no mention of the fact that New Zealand have been doing this for decades with the Pacific Islands, recruiting the best players from Tonga, Fiji and Samoa etc while still in school most of the time? Fair enough. Different rules it seems.

You can read Paul’s piece in full here.