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'We're going to pay the price on tour': Former lock highlights flaw in Irish model

REACTION: Leinster are heading back to Dublin and the drawing board after their 20-25 United Rugby Championship semifinal defeat 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 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 brains trust will have to reflect on what went wrong.

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 lock. “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.


“The attack was blunt today [Saturday], 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 No.9 and No.10.”

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

“Leinster have been let 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 for 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 [July] tour.

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


In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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