The Leinster XV plying their trade outside the province 

Leinster boast an embarrassment of riches in virtually all positions at present so it is no surprise that many promising players have left the province to find valuable game time elsewhere.

Enda Fahy selects an alternative Leinster XV plying their trade outside Leinster, all of whom came through the Leinster sub-academy/academy (with the exception of Matt Healy, who came through the schools and club scene).  

1. Jack McGrath – Ulster 

The former British and Irish lion decided to leave Leinster in 2019, unhappy to play second fiddle to fellow Irish international Cian Healy. The accomplished loosehead prop has become one of the first names on Dan McFarland’s team sheet since making the move to Ulster in 2019. His excellent form this season saw him named in Ireland’s Six Nations squad. 

2. Bryan Byrne – Bristol Bears

The former Leinster hooker moved to Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears on loan at the end of last season and has earned himself a one year deal ahead of next season. The 26-year-old struggled to make the Leinster XV on a regular basis with Irish internationals Seán Cronin and James Tracy ahead of him. 

3. Marty Moore – Ulster

The Irish international prop left Leinster in 2016 and joined English Premiership side Wasps. The 29-year-old spent two seasons in black and gold before moving to Ulster to increase his chances of adding to his 10 intentional caps. 

4. Alan O’Connor – Ulster

The 27-year-old lock spent time in the Leinster sub academy before switching to the Ulster academy in 2012 and making his debut that same year. The 6ft 4in second row has developed into a strong scrummager and a powerful ball carrier.  

5. Gavin Thornbury – Connacht

The 26-year old-lock is currently is in his third season with the western province after signing a two year extension in 2018. The towering 6ft 8in Dubliner came through the Leinster academy before playing for Border and Wanganui in New Zealand. The highly rated second row was called into an extended Irish squad back in 2018 but has yet to earn any international caps for Ireland.  

6. Tadhg Beirne – Munster

The 28-year-old left Leinster after making just three appearances for the province and joined the Scarlets ahead of the 2016-2017 season. He played an integral part in the Scarlets’ successful Pro12 campaign in 2017 before joining Munster in 2018 in order to improve his chances of playing for Ireland. The move has paid off for athletic back row who has earned 13 caps for Ireland since the move. 

7. Jordi Murphy – Ulster

The talented Irish international, who narrowly missed out on a position in the 2019 World Cup squad, joined Ulster in 2018 to get more game time and increase his chances of starting for Ireland. The 29 year old had found himself down the pecking order in the Ireland back row and faced strong competition at Leinster from the likes of Jack Conan, Seán O’Brien and Josh van der Flier.  

8. Paul Boyle – Connacht

A product of the Leinster sub-academy and Lansdowne RFC, the powerful number eight joined the Connacht academy in 2017 and made his debut for the province against Munster in 2018. The 23-year-old has been a great addition to the Connacht squad and he continues to improve each season.

9. John Cooney – Ulster

The 30-year-old made his debut for Leinster in 2011 against the Ospreys before joining Connacht on a short-term loan in 2014. The scrum half left the western province in 2017 to replace Ruan Pienaar at Ulster and he has not looked back since. During his debut season he was named Ulster Player of the Year, the Supporters Club Player of the Year and Rugby Writer’s Player of the Year. His blistering form this season has seen him nominated for the 2020 European Player of the Year award.

10. Ian Madigan – Ulster

The Irish international left Leinster in 2016 to seek more game time and spent one season at Bordeaux Bègles before joining Bristol Bears in 2017. The 31-year-old was a key figure Bristol’s revival under Pat Lam. However, after missing out on the match day 23 numerous times this season, mainly due to Callum Sheedy’s excellent form, Madigan put pen to paper on a one year deal with Ulster ahead of the new season. 

11. Matt Healy – Connacht

Although Healy was never in the Leinster academy, he did come through the schools system before joining Lansdowne RFC in the All Ireland League. The 31-year-old’s superb form earned him a contract with Connacht in 2012. Healy is Connacht’s leading try scorer of all time and has earned one international cap to date. 

12. Noel Reid – Agen

The talented 30-year-old, who can play at outside half and centre, made 120 appearances for Leinster between 2011 and 2019. He left the current Pro14 champions ahead of the 2019-2020 season to join Premiership side Leicester Tigers. His time at Welford Road was cut short over his refusal to take a pay cut and he has since joined Top 14 side Agen on a two-year deal.

13. Tom Farrell – Connacht

The highly rated centre spent time in the Leinster academy before joining English Championship side Bedford Blues. Farrell returned to Ireland in 2017 and joined up with the western province and has been one of the province’s most consistent performers since his arrival. 

14. Andrew Conway – Munster

The elusive winger left Leinster for arch rivals Munster in 2013 and has developed into one of Munster’s most prolific try scorers. The 29-year-old has earned 21 caps for Ireland and is undoubtedly one of the most exciting wingers playing in the Pro14.

15. Joey Carbery – Munster

The highly talented 24-year-old’s decision to leave Leinster was influenced by his ambition to get more game time playing in the number 10 shirt. Since his arrival in Munster in 2018, the talented outside half, who spent much of his time in blue playing at fullback, has unfortunately been blighted by injury. 

The conveyor belt of talent coming through the ranks at Leinster will continue to force players to seek opportunities at other provinces and further afield. As a result, Irish rugby will continue to reap the benefits.


“Main photo credit”