However, throughout the requisite time of slightly over 11 1/2 years, the Ireland rugby team draws in player terms from 46 different schools with varying athletic pedigrees, and by no means all of which play competitive rugby. Indeed, only five of the current squad were educated at Dublin schools, while three others attended non-competitive private institutions in England.
As mentioned, Ireland's most successful rugby players have usually come from a background of some sort of sport. Johnny Owen and Bill Johnston both attended St. Patrick's College, Ballinteer; they went on to play for Ireland alongside each other on eight occasions between them. Other notable examples include Andy Allen (St. Peter's), Brian O'Driscoll (St. Joseph's), Leo Cullen (Templeogue), Joe Schmidt (Cumann na mBan); and former players who did not make it into the national side include Mike Gibson, Gary Loughran, Kevin McCue, Des Mulligan, Pete McCabe, Martin O'Neill, Paul Stewart, David Wallace.
Of the current squad, six came through the underage systems of one school or another, while three more played their junior rugby elsewhere in the country before joining up with an adult team. In fact, none of the current squad went to school in Ireland but two players - Rory Best and Sean Cronin - attended English institutions as children. However, seven others attended Irish schools.
These athletes have the potential to make the national squad one day. As one of the most popular team sports in Ireland, hundreds of players participate on a regular basis. Rugby is played by around 32,209 youngsters in elementary schools alone. In addition, more than 10,000 adults play the sport too.
Ireland has one of the largest economies within the European Union and its GDP exceeded $350 billion in 2016. Despite this, unemployment remains high at 12.7 percent. Many young people are attracted to rugby as a possible career path because it does not require much investment or training to start playing.
In Ireland, there are nearly 100 clubs with teams ranging from junior boys' clubs to senior women's teams. The Irish rugby scene is based around the four provincial bodies - Leinster, Munster, Ulster and Wales - who each control their own competitions throughout the season. There is also a central league called the Celtic League which includes all four provinces plus Scotland and Italy. This competition is open to any international club, but it must have a license from the relevant provincial body to play in that province. For example, Leinster licenses those clubs that compete in the Pro12 league.
Each club is given a certain number of players on their team and these can be either amateur or professional.
Rugby has traditionally been viewed as a "Protestant" sport in Northern Ireland, whilst it is viewed as a more upper class/private school activity in England (for broadly the same reasons). The Irish national team is also considered to be very much part of this culture.
However, since the 1980s, when it became popular with students from all backgrounds, there has been less difference between the teams on the basis of religion or class.
The earliest records of rugby games are played by British soldiers during the time of King Charles II. These games seem to have been similar to what we know today as football (soccer). It was not until the late 18th century that rugby as we know it today came into being. By then, it had spread across Britain and was becoming associated with elite schools. In Ireland, it began to take shape around the same time but it was really only after the start of the 20th century that it became established here too.
There are several factors which have helped to make rugby popular with students from all backgrounds in modern Ireland. The first is that it is a simple game to learn. There are no rules against physical contact so anyone can play it, including girls. This means that it does not discriminate against any social group.