Man­ag­ing play­ers . . . or not

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Rugby -

For a clear pic­ture of the dif­fer­ences be­tween Ir­ish and English rugby sys­tems, see who re­turned from in­ter­na­tional duty this past week­end.

Seven­teen of the Eng­land team that beat Aus­tralia on Novem­ber 24th were start­ing in club cos­tumes. From the Eng­land start­ing XV, Ex­eter duo Henry Slade and Ben Moon were held off while Owen Far­rell and Ben Te’o did not reap­pear for Sara­cens and Worces­ter. The rest? Flogged (in­clud­ing Manu Tuilagi as Le­ices­ter stum­ble closer to rel­e­ga­tion trou­ble). The num­bers don’t lie with Billy Vu­nipola and Tuilagi only shar­ing the Test match field un­der Ed­die Jones for 17 min­utes against Wales in March 2016. That Eng­land re­main the fourth ranked side in the world is an in­dict­ment of the stan­dard of in­ter­na­tional rugby.

Of the Ire­land 23 that faced New Zealand on Novem­ber 17th only three were back on deck for the prov­inces – Peter O’Ma­hony and Keith Earls – as Mun­ster coach Jo­hann van Graan seeks mo­men­tum be­fore Cas­tres come to Lim­er­ick. Jordi Mur­phy was at open­side for Ul­ster with Rory Best and Ja­cob Stock­dale com­ing off the bench to sal­vage the lat­est unim­pres­sive Belfast vic­tory, over Cardiff, while An­drew Porter fin­ished off Le­in­ster’s dec­i­ma­tion of the Dragons at Rod­ney Pa­rade. The rest? On ice.

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