Ex-Irish international Donal Lenihan has blasted the Pro14, questioning the direction of the competition that has ‘too many dead rubbers’ and teams that ‘offer nothing’ other than cannon fodder for a few Irish giants.
“The minute you saw the Ulster side announced, the game became a foregone conclusion and that was disappointing,” Lenihan said when speaking on 2FM’s Game On radio show.
Lenihan pointed out Leinster’s ability to roll out second string teams and still beat just about anybody. Leinster steamrolled Ulster 40-7.
“Connacht and Munster had sufficient numbers of their top players in action and that was good to see.
“But then look at Leinster. I don’t know if there is a team in any sport that are 19 points ahead in a league table, chopping and changing their side as they do?
The future growth of the competition comes into question without serious competition which Lenihan thinks is a problem, highlighting the small attendance numbers as a symptom.
“Overall, the Pro 14 has too many dead rubbers, too many teams putting out under-strength sides for games away from home. That’s something we’ve been criticising the French top 14 sides for years.
“I would be worried for the future of the Pro14. How many games have we seen with small attendances?
The quality of some teams is a serious issue, in particular, the South African teams which haven’t proved to be competitive on a regular basis.
“The likes of the Cheetahs, Zebre, Dragons and Southern Kings have little or nothing to offer.
“I have been very disappointed with the South African sides. I gave them the benefit of the doubt when they came into the tournament as they were coming out of a Super Rugby season.
“The South African stadiums are far too big.
“If they are going to join they have to take it seriously.”
A bright spot for the league has been the improvement made by Italian side Benetton, according to Lenihan.
“One positive is the advancement made by Benetton. They sit third in Conference B. They beat Glasgow over the weekend and have won seven matches so far. So that is some spark from the Italian scene.
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