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03rd Nov 2017

The mystery of why Dominic Ryan never joined another Irish province has been solved

What a shame

Patrick McCarry

“At the end of the day, the players make the decisions. It’s not up to us really. It’s not up to the provinces. The players have to make those choices.”

The noble words of IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora back in September.

The union wants to get out of the malaise it has been stuck in for far too long, where players gather dust when they could really benefit the other provinces and, in turn, themselves. For example, Leinster currently have a shed-load of talented back-rowers that could do a job around the country. Up at Ulster, they are bursting with talented backs [despite the current outhalf shortage].

“If a player is not getting the amount of game time that he wants, then he has got a choice to make,” said Nucifora.

If only it had been that simple for Dominic Ryan. The Ireland internationals situation was discussed when Niall Woods, his agent, joined The Hard Yards [from 40:00 below] to discuss contracts, player demands and a whole range of matters.

Ryan played 113 times for Leinster, over eight seasons but, despite his versatility, he was finding it hard to hold down a regular spot in the back row. Near the end of his time with his home province, Ryan looked around and assessed his options.

He was linked with a move to Munster, where he would have been a useful addition, but it was not so simple. Woods said:

“He knew that he needed to get game time and he had looked, before he was a client of mine, at trying to be released from his contract. The IRFU denied it [the request].

“He knew, as there are seven or eight Ireland internationals in the [Leinster] back row, that he wasn’t flavour of the month, or flavour of the season, with Leo [Cullen], for whatever reason. He accepted that but he was 26 and heading for 27 and knew he had to go and try and play rugby.”

Woods has seen this a few times since he got into the rugby agent game. A player from another province is often considered only for the union to green light a move for a foreign player who plays in a similar position.

Ryan could have certainly done a job for Munster, who recruited South African flanker Chris Cloete in over the summer, as well as Ulster and Connacht. Indeed, the likes of Peader Timmins and Max Deegan are another couple of Leinster back-rows that could do worse than moving away for a season or two of regular rugby.

Ryan approached Woods in late November. He knew he had decent contacts over in England and a deal was done with Leicester Tigers, who had recently brought in former Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor at Welford Road.

Ryan started off well with Tigers, playing four games early in the season and impressing many of his new teammates and fans, but a concussion issues currently has him stood down from action until December.

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