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Either learn from World Cup exit or lose out again

Published 28/10/2015

In spite of the great pain of Ireland's premature exit from the Rugby World Cup, the positives to be borne in mind are that the team retains a world class coach in Joe Schmidt and we have a promising group of young players to be developed over the next four years.

The fundamental reason for Ireland's exit - contributed to by the loss of a number of our best players before the quarter-final - was something which cannot be rectified by the head coach alone. It was and is the same malaise which affects all the European nations; namely, the cultural disparity in skills between the top nations of the southern hemisphere and those in the north. These stem from the differences in emphasis from junior rugby upwards.

In the southern hemisphere, from grassroots level upwards, there is a greater emphasis on running and attack rather than on kicking (a largely defensive action).

Under-age teams are also divided by weight, rather than by age, so similar-sized players will play against each other in competition rather than having early-developing boys simply barrelling through smaller boys their own age (as happens in Ireland) who do not have the size, or weight, to really test the skills of their larger peers.

If rugby does not make these changes, Ireland (and the other five nations we regularly compete with) will continue to lose to the southern hemisphere teams at Rugby World Cups.

JOHN REID

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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