Sacked on the back of England’s dismal World Cup showing on home soil in 2015, the Leinster senior coach now finds himself implicated, indirectly, in Ireland’s tortured 2019 campaign which was brought to a limp end by the All Blacks in Tokyo.
In the midst of the Six Nations hype, the provincial coaches beaver away with reduced playing resources, trying to keep the ship afloat and a season’s work on track over a series of Guinness PRO14 games which, by and large, pass unnoticed.
Five years on from the acrimonious restructuring of the European Champions Cup, the tournament’s new organisers, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have finally stumbled across what appears to be the best balance between the old Heineken Cup, as driven by the Dublin based European Rugby Cup (ERC), and the new entity.
There’s still a few days to be crossed off the calendar but we’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that the first September in living memory without a pair of All-Ireland men’s senior finals at its core will come and go without the sky falling in and the very fabric of the GAA having been ripped asunder.
In a PRO14 final of real quality, illuminated by nine smashing tries, Leinster turned on the class in their final appearance of the season to achieve what even their stellar side that dominated Europe between 2009 and 2012 found beyond them — a European and domestic double.
The target on Leinster’s back has just got bigger. That’s the way it has always been for champions. First up, it’s Munster gunning for a win over the newly crowned European champions that would propel them into a third Guinness Pro 12/14 final in four seasons.
Johnny Sexton waited almost a decade to experience the satisfaction of playing a central role in an Ireland Grand Slam success, but he will try not to scratch a similar itch when Leinster contest their first Champions Cup final in six years in Bilbao today.
Leinster will match Toulouse’s record of four European Cup titles if they can account for Racing 92 in Bilbao tomorrow.examines why, six years after the third of their Heineken Cup titles, the province is again on the verge of something big
Every position in the back line has been filled by Leinster’s Isa Nacewa, including scrum-half where he excelled in one game last season when Luke McGrath was sinbinned. The veteran New Zealander even scored a try while holding that fort, writes