LEO CULLEN has issued his strongest criticism yet against the Champions Cup organizers for the loss to Montpellier, calling it “illogical”.
Leinster hosts the Top 14 team – who have made 15 changes from their last game – tomorrow need a bonus victory to rekindle their European hopes.
They suffered a major blow in December when a meeting of the parties in France was canceled because of new Covid-19 cases in the province’s camp.
EPCR awarded the winning Montpellier 28-0 bonus points. Other games that could not be played that weekend – because of new travel restrictions – were later downgraded to a 0-0 draw.
Cullen accepted there was no remedy for appeal, instead appealing to the media to lobby EPCR over what he considers inconsistent treatment.
Castres played against Munster last night despite having six positives in their table.
And Cullen said: “There are huge consequences when you lose a game 28-0.
“Sometimes it’s about seeding later in the tournament, a home draw.
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“In the times we live in, there are commercial consequences to all of that. So it’s potentially very expensive, a 28-0 loss, for us. “
The former Ireland international outlined how they would be happy when the match was abandoned – and the spoils shared – earlier that week when there were cases in both teams.
He said: “We spoke to EPCR on Wednesday and we will be voicing concerns about travel and being stranded before Christmas.
“It seemed like a logical decision, a draw, at the time to me.
“But we went ahead, following the recommendation we received from the EPCR. It is important to note that. Then the game was postponed, although we also signed off from the public health authority.
“We will do PCR-ed on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday of that week, tested for antigens on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, changed travel plans ours to fly on game day and everyone is ready to go.
“We picked a team that Thursday, we traveled on Friday and there was a sense of excitement.
“The group that we used to be so excited to say, ‘this is unbelievable’.”
Cullen charted how other parties were allowed to proceed with matches despite similar issues.
Leinster head coach questioned: “It seems illogical to me. We are the ones who suffer the 28-0 loss at the moment. We are licking our wounds.
“And we can only spend so much time talking about it because we have to keep playing the next game, because you can drive yourself crazy with frustration.”
“We are ready to take on Montpellier and score as many points as we can during the day to have the best possible chance of climbing up from where we are.
“It is a lot harder to play sport during a pandemic, especially across borders, but whatever happens, we hope to return this tournament to its former glory.
“We are certainly going through a complicated game but that doesn’t mean that by the time the knockout round comes around, whatever the format will be, we won’t have some great opportunities. ”
Robbie Henshaw and Ryan Baird are notable absentees from tomorrow’s match. Cullen said both were suitable but because training returned late, it was abandoned.
Ross Byrne received the nod in the first half with Johnny Sexton on the bench. James Lowe was also among the substitutions with Jimmy O’Brien starting on the left.
LEADER: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose, C Frawley, J O’Brien; R Byrne, J Gibson-Park; A Porter, R Kelleher, T Furlong; R Molony, J Ryan; C Doris, J van der Flier, J Conan. Representatives: D Sheehan, C Healy, M Ala’alatoa, R Ruddock, M Deegan, L McGrath, J Sexton, J Lowe.
https://www.thesun.ie/sport/rugby-union/8208631/leo-cullen-leinster-walkover-loss-montpellier-illogical/ Leo Cullen beats Leinster’s walkout loss to Montpellier as ‘illogical’ ahead of United Rugby Championship clash