Is it Ireland or Leinster versus Wales in Dublin this afternoon?
It’s a remarkable testament to the strength in depth of Leinster – and the ability of the province to produce rugby athletes – that so many of Ireland’s squad members for the Wales game can claim a blue tinge to their lineage.
The European heavyweights, who have dominated the PRO14 in recent seasons, have become the dominant variant in Irish rugby. The province supply chain is of course dependent on the highly competitive Leinster Schools system and owes at least a significant portion of its success to the demographic advantage it enjoys over its interprovincial rivals.
Leinster – with Dublin on its eastern coast – has a population of 2.6 million, just 500,000 or so less than the entirety of Wales.
Nevertheless, the numbers are impressive.
The 23 includes 14 current Leinster representatives, 11 of the starting 15.
What’s more, of the non-Leinster players selected in the 15 – two of them are products of Leinster’s academy. So that’s 13 of the Ireland XV that are Leinster players, past or present.
Twelve of the starting XV came through the academy. In fact just seven of the 23 didn’t come through the Leinster system – Mack Hansen, Jamieson Gibson-Park, James Hume, Finlay Bealam, Bundee Aki, Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray.
A similar pattern played out at U20s level, with 11 players from the Irish squad in the 23 that thumped Wales U20s 53-5 at Musgrave Park on Friday night.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 2, 2022
IRELAND TEAM TO PLAY WALES:
Leinster Academy players in bold*
H Keenan (Leinster); A Conway (Munster), G Ringrose (Leinster), B Aki (Connacht), M Hansen (Connacht); J Sexton (Leinster, capt), J Gibson-Park (Leinster); A Porter (Leinster), R Kelleher (Leinster), T Furlong (Leinster), T Beirne (Munster), J Ryan (Leinster), C Doris (Leinster), J Van Der Flier (Leinster), J Conan (Leinster).
REPLACEMENTS: D Sheehan (Leinster), C Healy (Leinster), F Bealham (Connacht), R Baird (Leinster), P O’Mahony (Munster), C Murray (Munster), J Carbery (Munster), J Hume (Ulster).
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