Alan Quinlan believes that the Leinster academy system has set Ireland up well, but that more can be done to bring other players into the Ireland set up from other routes.
In discussion with Ger Gilroy following Ireland’s Grand Slam success, thoughts turned to the benefits of the Irish school system that Stuart Lancaster has pinpointed as the difference between Irish and English rugby.
“Clearly, the biggest thing that we have going in this country is the school system. The school system obviously comes in for a lot of criticism because it is very elitist and the amount of money and resources that it gets is huge,” says Ger.
“Yet, it is also the best academy system in any sport. It’s right up there with La Masia at Barcelona. When you listen to Stuart Lancaster talking about the difference between Ireland and England: it’s the school system.
“The fact that a bunch of players can walk from St Michael’s, to the Leinster team, to the Ireland team and win Grand Slams, is ridiculous.” Ger continued.
Alan has nothing but respect for the level of consistency of the schools system in Leinster, but feels also that other paths for youngsters should be opened if Ireland are to build on their success.
“The pathway is very clear. For young players, they now have the ambition to go on those steps, if you like. But if you think of all the private schools in the UK, surely that system means they get lost in the system. To be fair, all the young players there – bar Stockdale – they are coming out of the Leinster academy.
“It’s a numbers game and that’s not a bitter Munster player saying that.”