Leinster and Ireland legend Rob Kearney is widely regarded as one of the very best to ever pull on the green number 15 shirt.
Throughout a long and distinguished career as the last line of defence for Ireland and Leinster, Kearney racked up 95 Irish test caps as well as 3 British and Irish Lions test caps across two tours.
Renowned for his otherworldly ability under the high ball, one would struggle to count more than a handful of times that an up-and-under got away from him across his sixteen-year professional career.
Earmarked from an early age as one to watch, Kearney, alongside his younger brother Dave, were stars for powerhouse Rugby School Clongowes Wood College.
Thus, with so much experience at all levels of the game, few are better positioned to comment on not only the state of the game but also its future.
Speaking on Virgin Media’s coverage of the 2023 Rugby World Cup in Ireland, Kearney was alongside iconic former Welsh and Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones, former Ireland winger Andrew Trimble and host Joe Molloy.
This particular clip came in the wake of Scotland’s loss to South Africa on Sunday, a match in which Springbok centre Jesse Kriel came into focus for his tackle on Scottish number eight Jack Dempsey.
Starting the conversation, Kearney said, “When I look at the future of rugby and the growth of the game can we still be a global sport that everyone wants to follow?
“I get concerned about two things, one of them being head injuries and head collisions is that going to affect the growth of our game and the participation in the game.
“The second one is consistency of refereeing decisions in terms of the fan and the viewer. Will they continue watching the game if they can never keep up.”
Focusing on the here and now, Kearney said that, in his estimation, this year’s tournament is really important for the future of the sport.
“The tournament is really important for the game and that fans remain engaged with it.
“Referees consistently getting decisions wrong, one of them you’ve got the TMO and bunker there whose primary role and job is to look out for foul play.”
For further context, Kearney was talking about World Rugby’s clamping down on dangerous tackles and the consistency of referees enforcing the laws.
“It’s disappointing, it is, and I just hope that we are not having these conversations more and more in post-analysis of these matches.”
For the full segment that includes Trimble and Jones’s comments, you can watch below.