There are exceptions to every rule, even when the powerful Irish hierarchy are making it crystal clear that they want their best players operating locally. Tommy Bowe, one of the star turns on last summer's Lions tour of South Africa and certain to be an automatic Six Nations choice over the coming weeks, yesterday bucked the homeward trend by opting to play his rugby with Ospreys, the leading Welsh regional side, for another three years instead of accepting one of three bids from the far side of the water.
Leinster, Munster and Bowe's native Ulster were all said to be interested in reaching for the chequebook and, given the current strength of provincial rugby in Ireland, he must have been sorely tempted, especially by the successful teams from the Republic. In addition, he could have named his own price to any of half-a-dozen clubs in the Guinness Premiership and the French Top 14.
But the 25-year-old wing, who also makes a handy contribution in the outside centre position, has decided to stick with the set-up he joined in 2008. "I feel we are on the cusp of something special and I want to be a part of it," he said. "From an international perspective, Ospreys have been the platform for much of the success I've enjoyed. As a result, I feel a strong sense of loyalty to them. I was flattered by the interest from other European clubs: a return to Ireland had a strong emotional pull, what with having a father from Munster and a mother from Leinster who both hold season tickets at Ulster. But it all came back to the fact that I'm enjoying my rugby, and life in general, at Ospreys."
Bowe has scored 18 tries in 34 appearances for the Swansea-based side, and his most recent strike-rate of nine in 10 outings underlines his value.
"The directors have worked hard to secure Tommy's future here in the face of some intense competition," said Andrew Hore, the elite performance director at the Liberty Stadium, acknowledging the seriousness of the challenge for his services.
"For that, they should be congratulated. The board have shown their support for the ambitions we have. They share our long-term vision and continue to back that up with their commitment and investment."Reuse content