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'I just find that so frustrating and ignorant' - Williams debunks Cullen myth

By Ian Cameron
Leo Cullen /PA

Rugby pundit Matt Williams has decried the ‘ridiculous fallacy’ around Leinster head coach Leo Cullen, who he rates as one of the best indigenous Irish coaches of the professional era.

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Leinster hammered Bath 64 – 7 in another masterful Heineken Champions Cup performance, a result which could see them through to next round despite the fact that were forced to ship a 28 – 0 loss on paper after their second round clash with Montpellier was cancelled by the EPCR.

Leinster are on fire again in Europe and the bookies have made them favorites for the competition, ahead of fellow European heavyweights Toulouse, Racing 92 and La Rochelle.

Yet despite their triumphs, the soft-spoken Cullen remains a relatively uncelebrated figure despite being the top dog in arguably Ireland’s most successful sporting franchise.

Former Scotland coach turned commentator Williams suggested there’s a perception that the Cullen regime at the province is coat-tailing on the coaching of Stuart Lancaster – an idea he describes as ‘ignorant’.

“He is probably the most outstanding indigenous Irish coach of the professional era as far as results go, cups and trophies in cabinets,” Cullen said on Virgin Sport. “There is this ridiculous fallacy that he sits up in his office drinking coffee and Stuart [Lancaster] does all the coaching. I just find that so frustrating and ignorant.”

Cullen, who won 221 caps for Leinster and was captain of three Heineken Cup-winning squads, took over as head coach at the start of the 2015/16 season, a period in which the province won four Pro14s and a Heineken Champions Cup.

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“He pulls that coaching team together to win games. He has got his own style of doing that. To think that Leo doesn’t know what is going on or someone else is running it, that’s just plain ignorance.

“There are a whole load of ways to coach. Rod Macqueen and Ian McGeechan, they weren’t technically on the field doing it, they had other like Jim Telford doing all the technical work for McGeechan.

“There are a whole lot of ways up the mountain. He has taken that team in a way up the mountain that is quite brilliant. He deserves a lot more praise from the Irish public.”

Cullen signed a one-year rolling contract extension last March. Leinster chief executive Mick Dawson confirmed the club had offered Cullen a two-year deal, which he did not take up for personal reasons.

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

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