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The IRFU Could Soon Be Drug Testing Schools Players

10 May 2014; Jordi Murphy, Leinster, wins a lineout against Edinburgh. Celtic League 2013/14, Round 22, Leinster v Edinburgh, RDS, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

The IRFU look set to follow in New Zealand Rugby’s footsteps by drug testing schools rugby players as young as 16 and 17.

The schools game is now considered a high-risk area by anti-doping agencies and a Sport Ireland spokesperson has said the testing of the young players is, understandably, viewed as a crucial matter to deal with.

Per The Irish Times, the spokesperson revealed that “convincing the schools to comply and then testing players is high on the IRFU agenda”.

In recent days, Drugfree Sport New Zealand made the unprecedented decision to test schools players following allegations in a number of countries that teenagers at the highest level with their colleges had begun to adopt the drug use culture of the professional game.

6 August 2015; A detailed view of training balls. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

The logistics of such a move here could be challenging considering neither Sport Ireland nor the IRFU actually govern the provincial Senior and Junior cups.

That being said, these actions are well overdue and must be carried out swiftly and effectively. In the past decade, the attitudes at schools level have been edging nearer to that of full-time teams and while that may be beneficial for the players’ technique and skill level, it could be detrimental to their health.

Intense gym sessions and a high standard of fitness are unquestionably a positive for the teams as their stars look to move onto the next level of their trade but the unerring will to win at that age means the use of performance enhancing drugs can’t be ruled out.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.