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'Damaging for Irish rugby' - Ex-Munster star blasts protected Leinster

By Ian Cameron
Ross Byrne and Garry Ringrose of Leinster after their side's defeat in the United Rugby Championship semi-final match between Vodacom Bulls and Leinster at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo By Shaun Roy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster are heading back to Dublin and the drawing board after their United Rugby Championship semi-final 25-20 to the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.


Sergeal Petersen’s two tries and Johan Goosen’s 15-point contribution led the Bulls to their second final in three years. Leinster, aiming for a ninth URC title and their first trophy since 2021, responded with tries from James Lowe and Caelan Doris but fell short.

With no new silverware in the cupboard for at least another season, the Leinster brain’s trust will have to reflect on what went wrong.

Video Spacer

Jake White talks about what the semifinal victory means to him

Video Spacer

Jake White talks about what the semifinal victory means to him

Donncha O’Callaghan, speaking on RTE, didn’t hold back in his appraisal of Leinster, suggesting that protecting the players had backfired dramatically.

“They’ve got it wrong; they’ve got it wrong again,” lamented O’Callaghan. “It’s brilliant using 50 players but when it comes to cup final rugby, you need to win it – and you need to have a team.

“And we saw this team, star-studded with internationals, and they were lost on the road because they’re not used to doing it.

“So, that is a flaw from management,” said the former Munster second-row. “I wouldn’t fault these players, they will always go out and give it their all – to be fair to them – but they haven’t had any experience in that [Away games].


“With the Irish model we want to protect them but sometimes it’s nearly too much.

“And to Jamie’s point about the attack – the attack was blunt today but it’s been blunt all season.

“If you look at it, it doesn’t look connected, and it doesn’t look like there’s ownership from the key decision makers – being your 9 and 10.”

O’Callaghan also thinks Leinster have been ‘let off’ and given an easy ride by the media in general.

“Leinster have been left off over the last few years. They are one of the best-resourced teams, not only in club rugby but in world rugby, and they just have not delivered.


“People leave them off. Media leave them off… They need to be held accountable, not just for this performance but their performances over the last while.

“That will be damaging for Irish rugby. The whole of South Africa is going to jump up and say look what our Bulls team did to this national team. We’re going to pay the price on the summer tour.

“From a Leinster point of view, an absolutely terrible performance, terrible result and one that should really shake the foundations.”




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Joseph 28 days ago

“……Leinster don’t know how to travel”? What a load of nonsense. The team consisted of a large number of Irish internationals who have beaten NZ in NZ. Of course they know how to travel.

They lost, that’s it. Next time they’ll probably win. It’s as uncomplicated as that.

Liam 29 days ago

At what point are people going to think hmmm, when these south african teams were in super rugby they were competitive with the kiwi teams…. But not often dominant. As soon as they move up north they are dominating the Euro teams. And yet super rugby is a powder puff competition, says the narrative. Maybe not.

MattJH 29 days ago

The experience will only be damaging if they drop bottom lip and kick stones.
The Irish will be much better for the experience, and will be excited to come back in a few weeks time.
Bulls ain’t the Boks though… It’s a whole other step up.

Icefarrow 31 days ago

The whole of South Africa is going to jump up and say look what our Bulls team did to this national team. We’re going to pay the price on the summer tour.
The Springboks won the last World Cup. I hardly think the Bulls’ victory changed the South Africans’ mindset, given they already know their national team and clubs can beat Ireland’s.

Jon 31 days ago

It’s one of the reasons Super Rugby was formed, and which South Africa became proficient at, but which Franch want to shield themselves away from.

Credit to Ireland in this new era though, it looks like should learn the lesson fast with people like this providing input.

Dustin 31 days ago

It's a real stretch to say this is “Damaging” to Irish rugby. Pretoria is a tough place to play. If this has been played in Dublin the result would be different.

Troy 31 days ago

Their forwards aren't dominating the collisions like they used to and their plays are becoming predictable. This is the challenge when seeking to stay at the “top”, that's why the Crusaders are unbelievable - barring this season obviously. But dollars to doughnuts they'll be back - can Leinster? The Sth African series takes on another dimension now, can Ireland be confrontational enough to challenge the Africans on their home soil? Will be interesting.

john 31 days ago

Leincter should be achieving more than they are with all the privileges they seem to get .

Vincent 31 days ago

Team play wins matches!
It's more important than star-studded sides.

Patrick 31 days ago

And still, they let Ross Byrne on the pitch .
How times will Byrne lose leinster a win. Poor decisions and Poor kicking has cost leinster a few games. 😡

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