Ulster's Darren Cave shares Brexit worries - 'Imagine Rory Best having to drive through a hard border to play at the Aviva stadium'
Ulster and Ireland Rugby star Darren Cave has given his verdict on Brexit and Northern Ireland politics.
Writing for The Sports Chronicle the centre reflected on a wide range of issues, from his own and Ulster's future to the future of Northern Ireland as a whole.
Cave (31) has spent his entire career with Ulster since making his debut in 2007, he made the last of his 11 Ireland appearances in 2015.
In his article, Cave admitted that he had no recollection of the Troubles but admitted he felt the current political situation was a "threat to the Good Friday Agreement".
He also called for a second referendum if the UK looked set to leave the EU without a deal.
The Holywood native noted the issues still faced by Ulster players playing for Ireland ahead of Ulster travelling to Dublin to face Leinster in the Champions Cup quarter-final the day after Brexit is set to be finalised (March 29).
"After everything we’ve been through in Northern Ireland, can you imagine the most successful Ireland captain ever, Rory Best, having to drive through a hard border to play at the Aviva stadium?," he wrote
Cave wrote that he believed that "British citizens who voted in the European referendum did not fully understand what they are voting for".
The former Sullivan Upper School pupil wrote that he felt "Northern Ireland politics is still in a dreadful place" due to the stalemate at Stormont.
Revealing that he is pro-choice and pro-marriage equality, Cave noted that the "the DUP disagrees with me".
"To them and Sinn Fein it remains the same as it ever was. It’s all about colours. Protestants vote for the red, white and blue because they do not want a united Ireland. Catholics vote the opposite way," he wrote
"The real problems – healthcare, homelessness, equality – are ignored because our government has been absent, with pay, since January 2017 over an Irish Language Act which was reportedly due to cost £8 million pounds."
Cave wrote that he felt the Republic of Ireland had progressed socially while Northern Ireland has been left behind.
"The political landscape in Northern Ireland is a very sad state of affairs and I don’t know how it is going to change as the DUP versus Sinn Fein saga rumbles ever on with the two communities entrenched on either side," the Ulster star wrote.
"I would love in my life time to see parties not based around unionist or republican ideals taking control of our future."
Turning back to Rugby, Cave admitted that he believed his Ireland career was over, but defended the right of foreign players to represent Ireland through residence.
The centre reflected on the current season at Ulster, writing "unlike the past few years there are more ups and downs". He praised the contributions of young players coming through the Ulster academy.
Cave also touched on the departure of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding from the setup.
The pair left shortly after being acquitted in a high profile rape trial. Their contracts were terminated by Ulster and the IRFU following an internal review.
"It was such a strange circumstance, one that no club expects to ever go through," Cave wrote.
"Having played and trained with Paddy and Stu for their entire careers up until now, it’s nice to see them enjoying their rugby again in France because they had a long time out of the game. They are two fantastically talented players. I am excited about their futures in rugby over the coming years."
He also pondered on what it means to play for Ulster in 2018, with players increasingly being signed from outside the province.
"In the modern era you don’t have to be from ‘the north’ to wear the jersey with pride," Cave wrote.
"We embraced that idea. There’s about ten guys in our squad who are from Ireland but outside of Ulster. We changed that way of thinking by welcoming these players with open arms.
"We did that by making sure each new arrival was part of our culture, of our future. It doesn’t matter where you are born, it’s about wanting to play for each other."
Belfast Telegraph Digital