O’Sullivan livid after stadium ‘bombshell’

RELATIONS between the IRFU and ARU have slumped after Ireland’s kickers were denied access to the Estadio Jose Amalfitani, home to Argentine soccer club Velez Sarsfield in Buenos Aires yesterday.

An understandably annoyed Eddie O’Sullivan described the situation as “a bombshell” and said he found it “amazing” that he was only informed of the decision to block his kickers at 4:30pm on Thursday.

Because of this, he says, it was too late to make alternative plans.

A soccer game between Velez Sarsfield and Chicago took place at the stadium last night and this seems to have caused this difficulty.

However, responsibility lies with the ARU, who blocked Ireland’s kickers access to the stadium 24 hours before the test match.

This is a breach of IRB regulations and will further tarnish the host nations’ image as it pursues entry into either the Tri or Six Nations tournaments.

This situations highlights the worsening relations between both countries in a week when Contepomi’s accusations that Ireland adopted “rough house tactics” in the first test were regularly discussed in the Argentine press this week.

One Argentine newspaper reported that referee Lyndon Bray “missed” 70 incidents of foul play involving Irish players.

The Captain’s Run is a tradition held on the day before international tests and O’Sullivan said this was the first time an incident like this has occurred in his tenure as Ireland head coach.

“The kickers have to go in cold to the stadium tomorrow. There is a soccer match there tonight and you can understand the difficulties, but they must have known there was a soccer match before 4:30 on Thursday.

O’Sullivan added: “Imagine if we closed Lansdowne Road the day before a game — the opposition would be a lot more disadvantaged than we were. They’ve played there before, they know the stadium. I don’t even know what the changing room is like.”

The IRFU will report this incident to IRB and O’Sullivan said that occurrences like this don’t strengthen the ARU’s case to hold international events.

“I don’t want to say how or why it happened. I just feel we should have been alerted to this a lot sooner.It’s hard to imagine they didn’t know before yesterday Thursday thatwe couldn’t get to the stadiumyesterday.

‘‘That’s what I find amazing.”

O’Sullivan added: “We’re not going to lose the plot. I think we’ve taken a far bit of flak from them vis-a-vis we’re a dirty side, we take cheap shots, we talk badly about them – it’s an ongoing soap opera at the moment.

“We’re not going to panic, there’s a game tomorrow, we’ll prepare as best we can but it is annoying that you can’t prepare properly. It shouldn’t happen at this level.”

Meanwhile, O’Sullivan reported a clean bill of health ahead of the second test, and has called for more accuracy in the back liner and better overall discipline.

“It’s a different landscape. We’re putting a new team on the field now and their focus is to give the same things the lads did last week.”

Verdict: Argentina by six points.

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