The decision not to award Munster's Donnacha Ryan a new centralised contract highlights an inconsistent approach by the IRFU, according to Tony Ward.
Ryan is coming to the end of a three-year central contract with the Union and the powers that be have decided that the Nenagh native is too old to warrant an extension.
The player will be 34 in December, he is four days older than Jamie Heaslip, who recently signed a new contract up until the end of the 2019 World Cup.
And while Ward has no problem with Heaslip getting his extension, he does highlight the one rule for one and one rule for another in the decision made by the rugby power brokers.
"I think it sends out a very unfair message that it's okay for one player to get an extended contract, but not for another"
Speaking to RTÉ Sport, Ward said: "The inconsistency is where I have the issue given that there are only four days between himself and Jamie. I have no problem with Jamie getting a contract but why is it one rule for Jamie and one for Donnacha? That's what I don't get and that's what's unfair.
"I think it sends out a very unfair message that it's okay for one player to get an extended contract, but not for another. It's nothing to do with Jamie Heaslip on a personal level, but I just think it's unfair on Donnacha Ryan.
"It's not as if we have abundance of second rows around at the moment."
With Ryan set for a move to French side Racing 92, Ward feels that Munster are losing a player at the peak of his powers.
"I think Donnacha is playing to the zenith of his career - as good as he has ever played," he added.
"It was a no-brainer for the IRFU to keep him. I know the IRFU will say they have to balance their books, but it's sad that a great talent is been shown the door."