Brian O'Driscoll tackles the issue of residency rule in rugby

The former Ireland captain was speaking to Off The Ball on the Friday night BODcast

BY Cian Roche 20:20 Friday 28 October 2016, 20:20 28 Oct 2016

The issue of residency rules in determining eligibility of players for international teams was raised again this week with comments made by Luke Fitzgerald.

"I think it's wrong," he told newspaper publications this week. "That's controversial and it's no reflection on those guys.

"They're doing everything within the rules. I want to see Irish guys in there. Are we not good enough to fill the spots? I don't know if there's a big enough gap to justify it?

"Garry (Ringrose) looks awesome, Robbie's (Henshaw) brilliant, Stuart Olding, Luke Marshall.

"I don't know if being born in a different part of the world makes you a better player. If they're not making their international teams, why would we be taking them?

"Is that an admission we're not as good as them? I'm sure it is. Would it affect me if there was a guy from another place getting picked ahead of me? I've been in that spot and it does piss you off."

These comments have once again sparked debate about residency rules and the law that states three years playing within a country can be enough to make you eligible to play for the international side in certain circumstances. 

Speaking on tonight's Off The Ball, Brian O'Driscoll addressed the issue of residency and how it applies to the Ireland set-up.

"I would largely be in agreement of what [Fitzgerald] says, but in the same breath you can't be critical or make the guys that are now in-situ within residency rules uncomfortable," he explained. "It's not their fault, they've taken advantage of it.

"Having said that, looking forward - and I think it's Gus [Augustín] Pichot's bug bear - he's the one really driving it within world rugby and looking to have the rule pushed to five years. It's very difficult to argue with that."

The former Ireland captain went on to explain that monetary gain from doing it would be large to those who can apply and get into the squad, taking into account win bonuses.

"If you come from a foreigner's perspective and come to a country where they get their residence, the financial incentives are incredible.

"The writing is on the wall early on as a 22- or 23-year-old. You might have had a go at Under 20s, you realise it's not going to happen for you.  There's other people in the pecking order who have passed you by and they're probably guys who are younger than you.

"They're in it for the long course. It's an opportunity for you to play for seven or eight years with an adopted country. It could be very lucrative, it could be worth €300-400,00 to you."

He added: "I saw Johnny Sexton specified three lads that he had played with and that they've given everything to win the jersey. I'm not doubting their intent in playing for the Irish jersey. 

"But, if you've spent 23 years in South Africa and spent three years in Ireland, where's the grá going to be? Can you possibly feel the same playing in an Irish jersey, in Ireland green, as opposed to South Africa green? I don't think you can."

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