Leinster rugby coach Leo Cullen says they may be forced to send minders along to player nights-out, after last May’s end-of-season controversies. The province was not happy with the squad’s celebrations last May, with a youth player hospitalised and Ireland flanker Seán O’Brien sanctioned by the IRFU.
Speaking after Saturday’s pre-season hammering of Coventry Rugby, at Energia Park, Cullen, for the first time, addressed the controversial end-of-season incidents: O’Brien urinated on a member of the public in a busy Dublin bar, one day after Leinster’s Guinness PRO14 final win over Glasgow, in Celtic Park, and Jack Dunne, the 20-year-old forward, was attacked by former player Stan Wright, and was hospitalised that night.
O’Brien is out of Ireland’s World Cup plans, due to injury, and will be joining London Irish next season, but Cullen admitted everyone involved had to do better.
“We have looked at it a lot,” Cullen admitted. “There were things that we didn’t get right at the end of the season. When you play a final at the end of the season (and the players) disperse and don’t come in again as a group, it is a challenge.
“The international guys, in particular, you can’t really bring those guys back in, because they have a short window for holidays. We have talked to the Glasgow coaches and they were bringing their guys back in at the end of the season.
We have events there where you have a mixture of former players coming together; there were a couple of things that happened in that period that we don’t like to see. We talked about it a lot. We addressed the players, just in terms of steps that we can put in place.
"When you get a group of guys who are out celebrating, blowing off steam at the end of the season, there is trouble out there. Sometimes that’s in our control and we can be better,” Cullen said.
“There are things we can control better ourselves and that’s what we will try to do, moving forward. We weren’t happy the way that we handled it.”
Cullen says some responsibility is on the players and some on the club, and the former captain, now starting his fourth season as head coach, refused to rule out “keeping an eye” on the squad when they hit the tiles.
“It was an unusual end to the season, the fact we had this big dinner [10th anniversary of their 2009 Heineken Cup win] thing,” Cullen said.
“The players had a night-out at the end of the season, as well, prior to that. We played the PRO14 final and then, on the Sunday, another incident took place.
“We could probably be better with having someone that’s there keeping an eye on them, so to speak. We need to understand that we have more of a responsibility to act in a certain way when we’re out together. We’ve talked to the players already and, as I said, some of that falls back on the club and how we handle certain situations, as well. It’s definitely something we want to learn from, so it doesn’t happen again.”