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10th Apr 2023

England legend says Leinster have Champions Cup final ‘handed to them on a silver platter’

Patrick McCarry

Thems the breaks for the top-seeded team after the pool stages.

Former England hooker, and multiple Grand Slam winner, Brian Moore is not happy with Leinster having a slew of ‘home’ games in the Champions Cup knock-out stages. However, he insists he is not on ‘an ant-Leinster rant’.

Leinster were rewarded for coming through the Champions Cup pool stages as number one seeds and, as a result, were given home knock-out games against Ulster and Leicester Tigers. As Aviva Stadium is their nominated stadium for games when they expect a high capacity, their Last 16 and quarter final games were switched from The RDS.

The top two seeds, if they get through those two knock-out rounds, then get a semi-final in their home country. La Rochelle will play their semi in Bordeaux while Aviva Stadium is the ‘neutral’ home venue for all for Irish provinces. As luck would have it, Leinster know the Lansdowne Road venue like the back of their hand.

With Leinster’s latest European march to a final coming off the back of Ireland’s Grand Slam success, not everyone is happy with the four-time champions enjoying the home comforts afforded by their success, and geography.

Brian Moore
Former England and Lions player Brian Moore speaking at a press conference in 2013. (Photo by Ben Hoskins/Getty Images)

Brian Moore on Leinster advantage

In his latest column for The Telegraph, former England hooker Brian Moore outlined what he feels is an anomaly that Champions Cup organisers have not planned for.

‘For Leinster fans,’ he writes, ‘they will not have to travel far if their side do contest the final, as the Aviva Stadium has been announced as the venue.

It is surely not right that any side should have four home games, including the final, when contesting Europe’s top club tournament.

‘In particular, no club should have a home tie for a final. Yes, Leinster are in an anomalous position, given that they frequently play in a national stadium, but it cannot be beyond the wit of an organising committee to prospectively book a couple of alternative venues before announcing a final or, as is the case this and other years, a stadium for a country from which no quarter-finalists have qualified, in this case Scotland or Wales.

‘Leinster are favourites for the title. Like the national side they populate heavily, they have no conspicuous weakness and do not need the considerable advantage of successive home fixtures. This is not an anti-Leinster rant; no side should be given this sort of draw. Other teams who topped their groups have not been handed similar benefits.’

Leinster supporters have argued that their side have often had to hit the road for knock-out stages and finals in past years. The two previous times the Champions Cup final was held in Dublin (2003 and 2013), no Irish province reached the final two.

Meanwhile, after Leinster smoked Leicester 55-24 in the quarter finals, Tigers coach Richard Wiiglesworth said there was ‘a gulf’ in what his side and Leinster can spend on players.

“They are an outstanding team with quality internationals and quality coaches that have been together a long time,” he stated.

“None of that is in question, but the gulf is in what you have available to spend. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong. I’m not asking to spend more money. I’m just being clear.”

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