Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Venter's Irish Mission

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Venter's Irish Mission

Article excerpt


SPRINGBOK centre Brendan Venter wants to turn London Irish into the Republic's "fifth rugby province" and tap into the talent being produced over there. He will start his new job as the Exiles' player-coach in June, signalling a return to action just six months after he quit the game to concentrate on his Cape Town medical practice.

Dr Venter, a member of the Springboks' 1995 World Cup-winning squad, made a major impact during his first spell with the Irish with his centre play redefining midfield attacking strategy in the First Division.

He returned to South Africa to further his medical career and won a place in the 1999 World Cup squad that finished third.

Now, the Irish have turned to Venter as they rebuild their management team following the axing of director of rugby Dick Best and first-team coach Ged Glynn.

Venter is distancing himself from the acrimony that followed the departure of Best and the imminent release of Glynn and believes he still has a good relationship with Best, who brought him to the club in the first place.

After visiting potential schools and finalising the home that his family will live in later this year, Venter set out his plans for the Irish, who are expected to record losses of [pound]1million this year.

The club are looking for a new sponsor after Aer Lingus' decision to end their substantial six-figure backing which could affect Venter's ability to greatly strengthen his squad.

That is why Venter's decision to accentuate the Irish heritage of a club that play their home games at Reading is timely, and one of his first priorities will be to meet the Irish Rugby Football Union to forge a new relationship.

The 31-year-old admitted: "I want to have a good relationship with the Irish RFU because they have so much to offer and I want them to see the club as the fifth province (after Ulster, Munster, Leinster and Connaught) of Ireland.

"The Irish Exiles team is no longer functioning as part of the provincial rugby set-up and they should think of London Irish in that role while we are playing in the Zurich Premiership. …

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