12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Kevin Potts has some unusual claims to fame. For instance, he once played in a Triple Crown-winning Irish side, coached by George Hook.
If that sounds odd, he was the first person to meet Brent Pope on his arrival in Ireland back in the nineties. What's more, he featured alongside Pope in the St. Mary's pack for many years, including the All-Ireland League 1993 final against Young Munster.
There were many appearances for Leinster, five Ireland 'A' caps, plus five Leinster Senior Cup winners' medals and three Leinster Senior League medals in an outstanding career. Okay, I can hear you say, but what about that Irish Triple Crown-winning side, under the coaching of George Hook?
Well, the answer is that George coached the Irish Colleges team to a Triple Crown, and the side included Potts.
Time, of course, has moved on for all concerned, with George and Brent now a television double act, while Potts is currently the Domestic Game Manager for the IRFU. In a previous life, Kevin worked as the managing director for a number of companies in the Financial Services Centre. But he left that behind 18 months ago to go back to a job which involves his great love, rugby.
Basically, his main focus (working with the Domestic Committee which is chaired by Der Healy) is the recreational game, i.e. putting more teams on the park and helping to ensure that those taking to the game get the maximum enjoyment they can out of it. He has to try and find more creative ways of attracting and retaining adults in the game.
It's an area which the IRFU is hugely conscious of, and consequently they are in the process of installing a Domestic Games Manager in each province. But there are other aspects to Potts' job, one of which is facilitating the process of restructuring the AIB League.
Potts explains: "It has been agreed that the league would be reviewed in the course of this season. And, once it is reviewed, that new structure will come into place in the 2008/9 season.
...Shannon: AIB League Division One champions 2005/06...
"That would allow us next season to decide the various qualification issues. We, in the IRFU, don't have a view what the structure should be like. What we do know is that it should be what the majority of clubs want, insofar as it accommodates the other IRFU commitments in terms of the professional game.
"Consequently, there is a process under way whereby each of the branches are consulting with their respective clubs. Three of the four branches have used questionnaires which they are in the process of receiving back."
So, what about all this talk of a 10-team First Division? "Well, that was suggested in a newspaper interview. But that is all that it is at this stage, a comment in the media.
"We haven't actually received a submission in relation to it. The first thing, it is important to state, is that this review process will take place this season. And, by the end of the season, the structure that's in place, will be one that has arisen out of a totally inclusive consultative process.
"Branches are in the process of getting their submission back from their clubs, and they will provide the IRFU with the results in the coming weeks. We have specifically asked that all views be expressed in the submissions, including the minority view."
...Action from last season's Division One final...
The plan, Potts expands, is to have a special meeting in mid-November to review the submissions. A first draft document will then go back to the Branches, and any other interested parties, inviting comment.
Subsequently, it will be a matter of waiting to see if it's accepted, but it is definitely not something which is going to be rushed. The hope is that, by next March, the IRFU will have a new AIB League structure which can then 'be communicated.'
So, there's quite a way to go yet, but Potts is clearly enjoying his position within the IRFU, and
remains positive about the challenges that lie ahead.
**This article, written by Kieran Rooney, first appeared in the Ireland v South Africa Match Programme. To purchase copies of the match programme please contact the publishers:
New Century Publishing on tel: +353 1 8398008**