I think since my move I’ve followed Irish rugby even closer than when I was back on the home sod. The thing about Irish rugby that appeals to the expat (at least me anyway) is the fact that most of the team aren’t expats!
The Irish rugby team, by and large, (Issac Boss and Simon Easterby are the only “blow ins” I’m aware of?) is made of home grown talent which is great to see and bodes well for the future. It is also made primarily of players playing their club rugby in Ireland (Easterby, Murphy, Duffy and Reddan are the exceptions). It’s also a testament to how the IRFU is coming to terms with professionalism and getting the structures in place to nurture Irish players. I hope this continues and we see some more players coming through the ranks.
However, even closer to home for me is the sole representative of County Monaghan in the international setup and he’s the first international player the county has produced since the 1920’s. Tommy Bowe was born in Monaghan and was schooled in Armagh. He gained his first cap for the national team against the USA in the Autumn internationals of 2004 and I’ve been keeping an eye on him since. Since then he’s earned ten caps and scored three tries for the national team. He plays on the wing with Ulster where he’s scored 26 tries for them over four seasons.
But since a very promising debut season he’s had a bit of a roller-coaster international career (due to form and injuries). He was included in the extended squad for the world cup but was cut from the final line-up. However, at only twenty three years of age, I feel his time is yet to come and I’ll have an excuse to get the Ireland and Monaghan flags out!