LOCAL rugby experts are insisting that Limerick is the “natural fit” for any potential centralisation of Munster Rugby’s training bases.
The province currently trains in two bases – Limerick and Cork – a fact outgoing Munster team manager Shaun Payne recently described as “a complete logistical nightmare”.
Limerick Leader reader Gerry Nugent makes his voice heard on the issue in the Letters page of our print edition this week, while Munster legend Gerry ‘Ginger’ McLoughlin and outgoing Garryowen president Eoghan Prendergast have declared Limerick to be the “only location” for a potential full-time base for the two time Heineken Cup winners.
“Professionalism requires experts in one particular spot and duplication of resources is expensive,” said Munster legend and local councillor Gerry McLoughlin.
“We all thought the University of Limerick would be the ideal facility to house the set-up, it just seems that with the expertise here in Limerick it would be the ideal spot to base it in,” added Gerry.
“Limerick is central and we have everything here. UL has everything that you can imagine and the support base is here too. It is a natural fit,” he added.
Mr Prendergast, who stepped down last week as Garryowen president and fired a withering broadside at the IRFU for ‘failing the club game’, has said all levels of the game, club, provincial and national level should work together for the betterment of the sport.
“I think it makes absolute sense, there is only one location, I know Cork is the bigger of the two cities, but with all the facilities we have and our situation and ease of accessibility, which is very important, Limerick is the most accessible city,” he explained.
He agreed with South African Payne, who said that up to four hours of training time each week has been compromised by the province’s use of two training bases.
“It is a nightmare, from the management point of view, splitting yourself in two locations just isn’t productive,” said Mr Prendergast.
“It has to be dealt with and Limerick was recently European City of Sport, Thomond Park is the base, Munster should have their offices in Thomond Park. To me it makes absolute sense - if I was from Mars I would say that, of the two places, Limerick is the more obvious one to centralise yourself,” he added.
Munster players train together collectively twice a week - once in UL and one day in Cork’s Institute of Technology - while they spend the rest of the week training in the separate cities.
Payne, who spent six years playing with Munster as well as spending four years as the province’s team manager, said recently that “from a playing point of view, you are travelling too much and you can’t train enough”.
“Not only that but you are not close enough to your peers the whole time that you are playing with. From a management point of view it is a complete logistical nightmare. There is no other way of putting it,” he declared.
“There would be a massive benefit with being able to be based in one centre, purely from a rugby point of view. There is no doubt about that. There is hardly a man who would say nowadays that we shouldn’t do it, that it is not a necessity to do it. It has to be done,” he added.
A decision is expected to be made soon on where to base the Munster training facility on a full time basis, with Limerick the odds-on favourite and Cork to perhaps to be given more matches in Musgrave Park as compensation, but this remains conjecture at this time.