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Jake O'Donnell
Jake O'Donnell

14:10 15 Feb 2020


In a wide-ranging sit down with Ger Gilroy, Stuart Lancaster opened up about his coaching philosophies, what he is striving to achieve, his thoughts on Irish rugby, its identity and how the Six Nations will pan out. 

One issue that the Leinster Senior Coach explored was the increasing amount of talent being produced by Leinster's academy and whether a new system needs to be developed to deal with all the young players coming through the province.

While the idea of a draft system for the country's young talent has been raised before on Off The Ball, Lancaster said that nature had to be allowed to take its course.

"There will be players at Leinster who we can't give opportunities to and they are ambitious players and they will leave and go and play for either other Irish provinces or somewhere else, that's the reality."

On that note, Lancaster went on to highlight the importance of identity and belonging in any team, and argued that the provinces should maintain that through local talent.

"To hold on to an identity is critical, I think, in any high performing team," the former England head coach explained.

"Munster have an incredibly strong identity, Connacht have, Ulster have. That's the strength of Irish rugby, I think.

"To try and say that, 'Actually identity is not important. Let's try and equalise the talent.' I don't see that.

"Lads who are born and bred in Leinster and Dublin come here they want to put a blue shirt on in the same way that lads in Munster want to put a red shirt on."

Any system introduced to spread out Ireland's young players would diminish that quality that makes Irish rugby so strong, Lancaster warned.

"You have to play for a cause and play for something and someone and some area or some province, you know. I think you dilute the identity of any team if you were to do that.

"It's not the only thing that makes a team but if I look at teams in England by comparison, London Irish, for example, they have some good young players coming through the academy but a lot of their players are from overseas or not from the catchment area of London Irish.

"I compare that to Leinster where 95% of our talent is from Leinster and then you throw in a Scott Fardy and a James Lowe and one or two others, that is the model.

"And I'm not just saying it because I'm at Leinster. I'd say it for anywhere."

Adding that it was the philosophy he tried to champion while Elite Director of Rugby at the RFU, Lancaster further stressed the importance of self-reliance in player production.

"Let's build from within, let's build our own academies and let's have homegrown talent coming through and then let's supplement that with quality overseas who can help that homegrown talent shine.

"Also, it's true for me as a coach I have to live here and buy into that identity and feel part of it otherwise it is false."

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Connacht IRFU Leinster Munster Stuart Lancaster Ulster

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