Six Nations: ‘Competing interests’ see Tommy Bowe make Ulster move

TOMMY Bowe, the top try-scorer in this year’s Six Nations, will return to professional club rugby in Ireland this year after agreeing a deal to leave Ospreys for Ulster at the end of the season.

The winger, who ran in two tries against France on Sunday – to add to two against Italy and one against Wales – was contracted with the Swansea-based Ospreys until the summer of 2013 but, under the terms of an agreement reached between the club and the Irish Rugby Football Union yesterday, the player will now be free to return to his homeland a year early.

Ospreys Chief Operations Officer Andrew Hore, explained: “We have come to an agreement with the IRFU which allows Tommy to return to Ulster. He has never been anything less than a great servant to the Ospreys and we are sorry to see him leave but the reality is that, with the ever-increasing number of international fixtures on the rugby calendar, it makes little sense for us as a business to invest heavily in marquee non-Welsh qualified players who will be unavailable to us for large percentages of the season, particularly in the current economic climate.

“Tommy is a proud Irishman who wants to represent his country to the best of his ability, which means attending all IRFU commercial and rugby events throughout the season. With this in mind, all parties are in total agreement that the best place for him to be playing his rugby is at home in Ireland hence us coming to this joint agreement.

Bowe joined the Ospreys from Ulster in the summer of 2008 and made 77 appearances for the region, scoring 36 tries – one of which came in the 2010 Magners League Grand Final as the Ospreys secured the title with a 17-12 win over Leinster at a packed RDS Showground in Dublin.

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“After returning from the Rugby World Cup I met with the Ospreys senior management team to map out this season’s schedule,” said Bowe. “It quickly became apparent that playing consistently for the Ospreys and representing Ireland to the best of my ability were becoming competing interests, and that upholding my commitment to the Ospreys whilst combining my Irish duties, would force a training and playing workload on me that was unsustainable.

“I was made aware of the IRFU’s interest in me returning to Ireland I spoke openly with the Ospreys and we agreed it made sense, on a number of levels, to develop that interest.

“Obviously, I have mixed emotions. I’m sad to be leaving a club and a region that I have been proud to call my home for the last four years and that has improved me immeasurably both as a rugby player and as a person. That said, I am also delighted to be returning to Ulster, the Province I grew up wanting to play for and where my family live.”