B&I Cup an ideal springboard to greater things - Hogan
Published 11/03/2016 | 02:30
As the only two-time winners of the competition, it's fair to say that as a club, Leinster have always regarded the British & Irish Cup as an important tool in the development of their Academy players.
This season has been no different and there is little doubt that Leinster will be favourites to collect a third title.
London Welsh are the visitors to Donnybrook tomorrow evening and although the level of opposition is expected to get tougher, in their current rich vein of form, Leinster will not fear anyone.
It's not that long ago that the likes of Josh van der Flier was a mainstay in the 'A' side but come tomorrow, he will have more pressing matters on his plate.
The pathway from the B&I Cup to the Pro12 and beyond has become clear in Leinster in recent years and despite the fact that a new coach took over the 'A' side this season, they have remained a formidable opposition.
"It's brilliant to see the likes of Josh getting an opportunity with Ireland but there is a knock-on effect," said newly appointed coach Hugh Hogan (who is also the elite player development officer).
"We've had a number of our Academy and development guys play for the senior team over the last few weeks, which is exactly what we want.
"There's a few guys who have been fortunate enough to win the competition a few years ago. There's guys who have played in the semi-final last year and they have that ambition as a group to drive on and try and win it."
Leo Cullen and his coaching staff as well as those above have made it easier for Leinster to compete on all fronts and Hogan was eager to make that point.
"It does come from the senior coaches, and the board certainly place value on the competition," he said.
"Our development staff and Academy place a huge value on it because it's an opportunity for guys to test themselves against the top Championship sides in England and showcase what they can do individually and what they can do within a team system.
"It is a step up from AIL rugby which a number of the Academy lads play. It's then proving to the senior coaches that they can make the step up to Pro12 level.
"We've been fortunate enough to have a lot of guys who have played B&I Cup this year who have also played with our seniors.
"If they perform well for the A's, they know that Leo and Girvan (Dempsey), Kurt (McQuilkin) and Fogs (John Fogarty) are watching and that they place a value on a good performance for the A's and they know how that corresponds to what they need at Pro12 level.
"I give a huge amount of credit to the playing group. They buy into what we're trying to do. It shows the value that they place on this competition as well."