While you may see former Leinster, Ireland, Lions and London Irish star Sean O’Brien lining a pitch every now and again at Black Gates, fans of the Tullow native will be disappointed to hear he won’t be wearing the maroon and white this season.
Having departed the professional game earlier this year, since taking up with Leinster as a contact skills coach, O’Brien is still keen to keep his hand in the playing game and help steer his own club on to bigger things in junior rugby.
Alas, that’s not set to happen with confirmation on Wednesday that an application to allow the former European Player of the Year ply his trade in Division 1B of the Leinster League this season has been rejected.
A club representative confirmed to Scoreline.ie on Wednesday afternoon that an application to allow O’Brien return to Tullow for the 2022/23 league season had been denied.
Scoreline understands should the application have been successful, O’Brien would not have featured for the club until closer to winter time with the 2023 Provincial Towns Cup set to commence in January, a competition Tullow last won in 2017.
While an appeal may be considered, the current regulations of the game mean that players who have performed at a professional level in the past two seasons cannot return to junior rugby, though they could make the move to the AIL ranks.
Under the 2022/23 competition guidelines for Leinster Rugby in relation to the eligibility of players to take part in adult competitions, section 5.7 reads “All players who have played international (including 7’s), provincial, or professional rugby in any jurisdiction for the Senior full team, in the current or last 2 preceding seasons shall be ineligible to participate in any Competitions”
In April of this year, O’Brien’s sister Alex had told Scoreline that the plan had been for Sean to finish his playing career in the Tullow club colours.
“That’s always something he has said from the off, he’ll finish his career in Tullow, and I really do hope he gets to do that because I know how special Tullow is to him and the work that he has put into the club since the beginning has been outstanding and it’s a credit to him as well.”
Source a copy of the Leinster Rugby domestic competition guidelines here.