Former Ireland and Leinster player Shane Horgan has said that the IRFU should consider joining a stronger league at some point in the future ahead of the expected announcement of a settlement to the two-year battle for control of the game in Europe.
An announcement of that settlement is expected this week and if it plays out as expected, a new structure which divides revenue equally between the French, English and RaboDirect Pro12 clubs will be in place
The Pro12 clubs are expected to end up with more money, but a reduced portion of revenues compared to the current situation as an equal three-way split with the French and English leagues will apply in future.
Cohesion between the Pro12 unions dissolved during the negotiations, with the Welsh regions strongly pushing for an exit for the Pro12 and entry into the English league.
The IRFU attempted to maintain unity between the Pro12 group but Horgan believes it may follow a more selfish approach in future and, and could examine playing in a league alongside the English clubs.
The RTÉ Rugby analyst said: “When the IRFU were looking at it, they were focussed on the Six Nations and the value that it brings into their coffers (and) they were worried about the weakening of the game in Italy and Scotland. But all of a sudden, we seemed to be worrying more about that than the actual countries themselves.”
According to Horgan, the IRFU should not underestimate the value the Irish provinces bring to the competitions they play in.
He added: “I think we might see a shift from here on where the IRFU say ‘if this is the way the game is moving, our clubs might be better off playing in a stronger league that develops some time in the future with the English clubs because obviously, this idea of fraternity isn’t as important to the other nations as it is to us’.”