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27th Dec 2023

“I can’t believe it was signed off” – Donncha O’Callaghan and Jamie Heaslip debate RG Snyman move

Patrick McCarry

Donncha O'Callaghan

The former Munster and Ireland star took a cut off the IRFU for allowing such a move to take place.

RTÉ aired a fantastic five-minute discussion about RG Snyman and his impending move from Munster to Leinster, ahead of Tuesday night’s United Rugby Championship clash between the sides. Donncha O’Callaghan spoke with the most passion on a contentious issue.

Snyman, who has been with Munster since 2020 but has only played 10 times, will move to Leinster on a one-year deal in the summer of 2024. Leinster were able to successfully argue that with the likes of Joe McCarthy, James Ryan and Ryan Baird [at least] needed for Ireland duty, the Springbok would added much-needed clout to their squad.

The Springbok, a two-time World Cup winner, stated that he wanted to remain in Ireland but was told Munster was not an option, as the province had decided to extend the contract of fellow South African Jean Kleyn. During the lively RTÉ debate, Donncha O’Callaghan declared:

“I know there’s a mindset that it’s just business but it’s not around Munster. It’s highly frustrating and I know supporters, ex-players, an awful lot of us are really frustrated by it… there comes a point in a players decision where [you have a decision] about your career or money path-way over your reputation. For me, someone like RG Snyman won’t be seen in the likes of Shaun Payne or Trevor Halstead when it comes to Munster greats, and how he is remembered.

“I can’t believe it was signed off,” he added. “I would now question the structure of the funding model… Last week, I watched European Cup rugby and the outstanding second row, bar maybe Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson was [former Leinster player] young Jack Dunne for Exeter. He was outstanding, but he’s playing in England and here we are allowing RG Snyman go up the road and taking up game minutes from Irish players.

“For me, it is a contradiction from what we are saying we’re trying to do. We are saying we’re trying to develop a path-way [to Test rugby] for Irish players and, for me, I think this blocks it.”

Former Connacht and Leinster hooker Bernard Jackman showed empathy to O’Callaghan and the Munster supporters, admitting the Snyman move was ‘a sore one’. Still, he added that the provinces should be allowed to sign star foreign players. “I think the IRFU should have let that slide, and allowed them to keep Snyman,” he added.

Host Daire O’Brien, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, threw out the phrase “financial doping”, when it came to Leinster, to Jamie Heaslip. The former Ireland captain replied, “I wouldn’t put it like that!”

“Look, I can understand the Munster fans’ position, and them being frustrated by it. The market sets the price for players. International second rows like Snyman are in demand. Leinster have always, when they’ve won [in Europe], had a big iconic talisman like [Snyman] so it fits the bill for someone like that to come.”

Heaslip said he could understand O’Callaghan’s argument about the path-ways being clogged up but added, “I wouldn’t give out about the player.”

“The reason so many Leinster players are getting [IRFU central] contracts is because of their success… you have to earn the right to get that.”

Graham Rowntree offers grim update on Edwin Edogbo

As for the match itself, Leinster won 9-3 but will be still unhappy at not putting the contest to bed long before the hour-mark. Munster were hit by injuries to starting forwards Dave Kilcoyne and captain Diarmuid Barron in the opening 20 minutes before losing Edwin Edogbo to an Achilles injury.

Following his side’s latest defeat, Rowntree said, “It’s an Achilles injury there [for Edogbo]. It doesn’t look good. Dave Kilcoyne, shoulder. Diarmuid Barron got a foot injury, Alex Nankivell as well. It’s quite a lengthy list there.

“We are already thin on the deck. We are thin squad wise, availability wise. We will see what we can muster up on Thursday, see what the injury report presents itself because we have got another big game at the Sportsground. We drive on.”

Leinster left props Andrew Porter and Michael Ala’alatoa on until the 73rd minute and did not use reserve backs Ben Murphy or Liam Turner at all. They had Munster’s number in most areas of the game, but gave up 10 turnovers to five allowed by the hosts. Some of those turnovers came inside the Munster 22, with Luke McGrath and Rónan Kelleher coming closest to scoring tries.

On the plus side for Munster, Tom Ahern looked seriously impressive again, Simon Zebo showed some of that spark of old and Alex Nankivell looks to be an astute signing.

Next up for the Irish provinces are New Years Day clashes – Connacht vs. Munster and Leinster vs. Ulster.


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