Reluctant coach Leo Cullen savours Leinster's moment of glory
Every day as he drives to UCD, Leo Cullen questions whether this coaching lark is really for him.
Every day as he drives to UCD, Leo Cullen questions whether this coaching lark is really for him.
It was joy on the double for Leinster's rugby heroes last night as they added the Guinness Pro14 crown to their European title.
This double was never in jeopardy. Leinster are celebrating their greatest season after adding the Guinness PRO14 to their European title with this...
Leinster know that danger lurks when doubles are on the line and they know the danger of a Scarlets side visiting Dublin at this time of the year.
The mantelpiece in the Ryan family home is beginning to sag under the weight of the medals James is delivering, but up on the wall there is a reminder of another young man of the same name who has his own place in history.
When, in March, the rugby writers in this parish sharpened their pencils and settled a pub debate as to what is Leinster's best 23 if all of the players were fit, not one of us picked Ross Byrne.
Joe Schmidt has left little room for experimentation on Ireland's tour of Australia after naming a 32-man squad yesterday that is locked and loaded with Grand Slam stars for the three-Test tour.
Anyone who expected Joe Schmidt to experiment with his squad for the upcoming three-Test tour of Australia hasn't been paying attention.
Ulster have lined up a replacement for Paddy Jackson but it remains unclear if the IRFU will approve the deal.
Gloucester have confirmed the signing of Munster second-row Gerbrandt Grobler for next season.
Leinster hope to have Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney, Dan Leavy and Isa Nacewa fit and available for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 final against Scarlets (6.0), but Robbie Henshaw is expected to miss out with his knee issue.
The rugby world is at Jordan Larmour's dancing feet, but he has taken each new challenge in his stride.
Leinster hope to have Johnny Sexton, Rob Kearney and Dan Leavy available for Saturday's Guinness PRO14 final against Scarlets, while they are also...
Leinster coach Leo Cullen insists his European champions are playing catch-up to Munster ahead of today's Guinness PRO14 semi-final at the RDS (3.15).
Leinster coach Leo Cullen says Isa Nacewa will not replace Girvan Dempsey as the province's attack coach, but confirmed they are on the look-out for a new assistant to replace his former team-mate.
Now that they have the Champions Cup trophy back in their cabinet, Leinster can look forward to being the benchmark team that everyone wants to have a crack off.
Johnny Sexton looks unlikely to recover from his groin problem in time to take on Munster in the Guinness PRO14 semi-final tomorrow, but Leinster hope to have captain Isa Nacewa available.
Keith Earls has paid tribute to Leinster's European Champions Cup-winning team but he said he and his Munster team-mates will happily bring them down to earth this weekend.
In the 16 seasons it has existed, there has surely never been a more competitive field for the Rugby Players Ireland (formerly IRUPA) Player of the Year award.
The laurels are not feeling the love around Leinster, there is no time for resting. Already the talk is of Munster and a European/PRO14 double-tilt.
Former Ireland full-back Girvan Dempsey has been appointed as attack coach at Bath and will bring a long association with Leinster to a close at the end of the season.
Robbie Henshaw will discover in the coming days if he will be able to play again this season after hurting his knee in the Champions Cup final last Saturday.
Of the 37 players Leinster used in their victorious Champions Cup campaign this season, 30 came through their own Academy.
Leo Cullen has paid tribute to Girvan Dempsey after Bath announced the Leinster assistant would be joining them next season.
Leinster will be without Robbie Henshaw for Saturday's PRO14 against Munster after injuring his knee in the Champions Cup win on Saturday.
Leo Cullen says Leinster hope to learn from the experience of losing the 2011 Celtic League final to Munster a week after securing the Heineken Cup against Northampton, as the focus quickly switches to the Guinness PRO14 semi-final against Munster at the RDS on Saturday.
The story of Leinster Rugby can be told through the prism of Leo Cullen, yet the lead protagonist prefers the shadow to the limelight.
When he's not accumulating an impressive collection of medals, Cian Healy spends his spare time making knives and fittingly he cut through all of the post-match commentary with his assessment of the 80 minutes that delivered his fourth European title.
Leinster are bidding for a record-equalling fourth European title with opponents searching for an elusive first crown. Here's how they rate ahead of the game in Bilbao.
As they seek to join Toulouse as the top team on Europe's roll of honour by winning their fourth Champions Cup today, Leinster's leaders have called on their team-mates to ramp up their performance and go to another level to beat Racing 92.
Six years have passed since Joe Schmidt's Leinster achieved their crowning glory at Twickenham, routing Ulster to confirm their status as a true European dynasty with their third title in four years.
Leo Cullen has explained his decision to pick Scott Fardy and Jamison Gibson-Park in his match-day 23 for tomorrow's Champions Cup final in in a decision that resulted in flying winger James Lowe missing out.
A year ago on Sunday, the Ireland U-20s took on a Munster development side in a warm-up fixture for their World Cup campaign at Thomond Park.
Leinster landed in the Basque city of Bilbao last night ahead of tomorrow's Champions Cup final meeting with Racing 92.
This one is different for Devin Toner who, along with Isa Nacewa, Cian Healy and Johnny Sexton, is on the cusp of a fourth European title and a place in the record books alongside Frederic Michalak and Cedric Heymans.
James Lowe could miss out on selection for the Champions Cup final if Leinster decide there is any doubt over Luke McGrath's fitness after training today.
It is safe to say the Contonou agreement between the European Union and the group of 78 African, Caribbean and Pacific states wasn't on many rugby fans' radars before this season, but at least among Leinster fans it most certainly is now.
The list of coaching double acts in sport is a short one and it is rare to find success when a club, county or country appoints a duo to head up their management.
Robbie Henshaw has revealed that Leinster have been dipping into the archives in search of motivation to bridge a six-year gap between European titles.
Interprovincial transfers are topical at the minute but in the week of the Champions Cup final there was no room for Robbie Henshaw to get into the nitty-gritty about the benefits of switching sides.
The prospect of Ulster having to wait until December for new coach Dan McFarland appears to be a live one after Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said his forwards coach will continue with the squad until his release date.
He is looking to finish his career in Europe on a high, but Racing 92 out-half Dan Carter believes that Leinster are justified favourites going into Saturday's Champions Cup final in Bilbao.
Stuart Lancaster has warned his Leinster players that all their good work in getting them to Saturday's Champions Cup final will count for little if they don't perform against Racing 92 in Bilbao.
Stuart Lancaster has been filling Johnny Sexton's head with talk of Tom Brady, but Leinster must beware of the story of Jimmy Garoppolo.
Fergus McFadden will miss Leinster's Champions Cup final and the Guinness PRO14 play-offs after damaging his hamstring in the win over the Scarlets.
Before last month's semi-final in Bordeaux, there was a sense amongst many of those who had travelled from Ireland that Munster were going to win.
Sale Sharks' move for Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding appears to be dead in the water after one of the club's main sponsors 'AJ Bell' contacted the club to express its concerns.
More than any other province, Munster define themselves by their European performance and their semi-final exit 12 days ago will sting for some time yet.
The Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid could prompt two sports organisations to change the time of their own big fixtures falling on Saturday, May 26 to avoid a clash, it has emerged.
At the outset, this looked like being a quiet week on the rugby scene but in truth there is no such thing.
This is no ordinary transfer saga, and so there should be no surprise that it will take unusual twists and turns.
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding's move to England is in the balance after Sale Sharks issued a statement denying they are signing the Ireland internationals.
Wayne Barnes will referee the Champions Cup final between Leinster and Racing 92 in Bilbao on Saturday week.
Is there a local solution to Connacht's problem? Could an indigenous ticket, supported by an experienced ex-international coach like Eddie O'Sullivan help the western province get back on track?
The IRFU still hold out some hope of convincing Joey Carbery to move to Ulster next season.
Given the year they've just had, it would be easy to see the Ulster job as something of a poisoned chalice. After all, having Brian O'Driscoll refer to your organisation as "a bit of a basket-case" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement.
Connacht are to part ways with head coach Kieran Keane after just one season. The western province have not confirmed the New Zealander's departure, but it is understood he will leave his position after a disappointing first campaign in charge.
It is the most exclusive club in European rugby, but next week three Leinster players could swell the ranks of players who have collected four winner's medals if their team beat Racing 92 in Bilbao.
Scotland forwards coach Dan McFarland will replace Jono Gibbes as Ulster head coach next season.
Barring an unlikely turnaround, the Joe Show will come to an end at the conclusion of next year's World Cup in Japan and the most important item on IRFU performance director David Nucifora's agenda is planning beyond that point.
For Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster, the schedule couldn't be better. One last hit-out against Connacht, before a clear 14 days to prepare for Racing 92, Bilbao and a shot at winning the fourth star for the jersey.
No sports movie ever ends with a dead-rubber, but while he could do a lot of things John Muldoon never quite managed to write his own scripts.
Even with a ban on news journalists in place this week, Ulster's players still found themselves answering awkward questions ahead of the final regular-season game of a very irregular campaign.
There is no longer a trophy handed out for finishing top of the interpro table but if there was it would be going Leinster's way regardless of results in Limerick and Galway on Saturday.
Having come off the bench in the quarter and semi-finals of Leinster's march to Bilbao, it seems likely that Nick McCarthy will be making the trip to the Basque Country next month.
Dan Leavy was the big winner at Leinster's awards dinner last night as the Ireland openside took home both the fans' and players' player of the year awards.
They play in the same competition, but Munster are operating under different rules to the likes of Racing 92 and nothing summed that up like the out-halves on show on Sunday.
Long after the full-time whistle had sounded on Sunday and Munster had made the long walk back to the dressing-rooms at the charmingly olde-world Stade Chaban-Delmas, Donnacha Ryan made his way over to the lingering red army to a rapturous reception.
Once again, Munster found themselves within touching distance of the summit only to fall off a precipice.
Racing 92 coach Laurent Labit believes his side will need to sustain their performance for the duration if they are to overcome Leinster in the final on May 12.
There will be no All-Irish final in Bilbao after Munster failed to perform against a Racing 92 side who blew them away in Bordeaux.
Munster captain Peter O'Mahony says his side aren't thinking about the prospect of an all-Ireland final in Bilbao as they seek to join Leinster at the San Mamés stadium on May 12 by beating Racing 92 in a stifling hot Bordeaux this afternoon.
Munster coach Johann van Graan is expecting Simon Zebo to make an impact off the bench when he is called on in Bordeaux tomorrow.
Racing 92 coach Laurent Travers believes the Bordeaux heat will be a major factor in his side’s clash with Munster tomorrow, but he does not believe it gives the French side an advantage.
Bilbao beckons. An unforgettable season for Irish rugby could yet feature a dream final between Leinster and Munster if they can get the job done this weekend.
Where better than the world capital of wine to produce a vintage performance?
Robbie Henshaw looks set to come straight into Leinster's midfield for tomorrow's Champions Cup semi-final against Scarlets, softening the loss of Luke McGrath who has not recovered from his ankle issue in time to play.
Donnacha Ryan chuckles at the memory of watching Ireland win the Grand Slam. The image portrayed by a Racing 92 tweet tells just part of the story. Sitting on a chair on the U Arena surface, he appears to be a man alone, gazing up at the giant screen while still wearing his match-day kit.
It is a tale as old as time, the mega-rich and star-studded French side will fade if the plucky Irish can roll with the punches and ride out the storm.
It is a debate that GAA fans will find familiar. The big boys in blue, playing neutral games at a venue in their home city not too far away from their nominated home.
After the try, Andrew Conway wants the trophy. The winger has his Thomond Park moment and it will live long in the memory banks, yet he doesn't want his heroic intervention against Toulon to be in vain.
Seán O'Brien's season could be over after the Leinster flanker aggravated his shoulder injury on his return to action against Treviso last weekend.
Munster are unrecognisable from the outfit that hoisted the Heineken Cup for the second time in three years in 2008. Of the match-day 22 involved in Cardiff that day, only Keith Earls remains at the province.
Johann Van Graan has issued a rallying cry for Munster fans ahead of his side's all-or-nothing Champions Cup semi-final against Racing 92 in Bordeaux, saying: "I believe".
Johann van Graan has hailed Keith Earls' return to fitness as a 'massive boost' ahead of Sunday's Champions Cup semi-final meeting with Racing 92 in Bordeaux.
Leinster fans watching the warm-up before Saturday's defeat to Treviso didn't realise it at the time, but they had already seen the highlight of their night.
Ulster Rugby fans angered by the sacking of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are considering protests at the club's next game.
Whatever happens this weekend, there will be an Irish presence on both sides of the divide in Bilbao on May 12.
It took no more than 105 words of an IRFU statement, released on Saturday morning, to bring the most toxic chapter in Irish rugby to its natural conclusion and the promising international careers of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding to an end.
Leinster suffered a home defeat to an Italian opponent for the first time as Treviso made them pay for a disjointed performance with a famous win at the RDS.
Since the dust has settled on Ireland's Grand Slam victory and with the prospect of an all-Ireland Champions Cup final on the cards, Tony Ward argues that the European club competition has now surpassed its test equivalent.
It has taken until the penultimate game of the regular season, but finally Joey Carbery gets the jersey he craves.
It will take a couple of seasons to establish whether the South African expansion has been a success for the Guinness PRO14.
Part of the initial wave of colts unleashed by Leo Cullen two seasons ago, Ross Molony has had to be patient as those around him go on to greater honours.
Champions Cup organisers European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) have defended the decision to hand Dubliner JP Doyle the reins for Munster's semi-final against Racing 92 next week.
There are bigger names with more caps in the vast Leinster squad, but increasingly Luke McGrath is the most important name on Leo Cullen's roster.
Former Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder is in the frame for the vacant head coach's post at Ulster.
Leinster are likely to give Luke McGrath another week to get over his ankle injury in the hope that he'll be fit to face Scarlets in their crunch Champions Cup semi-final on Saturday week.
Perhaps it was only when he turned his phone on in the Twickenham dressing-room that Garry Ringrose appreciated what he and his team-mates achieved last month.
The message from Leo Cullen to his players yesterday was clear; this is an opportunity.
RACING 92 tighthead prop Census Johnston will miss his side’s European Champions Cup semi-final against Munster after being hit with a four-week ban.
Sean O'Brien watched as the Aviva Stadium rose to acclaim his recently retired team-mate Jamie Heaslip and the steely professional within reasoned: it could be worse, that could be me.
Seán O'Brien is in race to be fit for Leinster's Champions Cup semi-final against Scarlets in less than three weeks' time.
For Dan Leavy, Sunday was a family affair as he dedicated his man-of-the-match performance to his grandmother who celebrated her 96th birthday by tuning into his heroics at the Aviva Stadium.
Irish fans giddily considering a run at the Bilbao final may want to heed the warnings of history before booking. We've been here before several times and only once has an all-Irish final materialised and never between Munster and Leinster.
In the moments before their team took to the Thomond Park field, Munster's fans joined the soloist on the pitch for a rendition of 'Stand Up and Fight'. Never has the line about going toe-to-toe proved more apt.
Scrum-half Luke McGrath is the chief concern for Leinster coach Leo Cullen after limping off midway through the second-half of his side's quarter-final win over Saracens.
The season that keeps on giving may yet produce an all-Irish final in Bilbao, but what Leinster guaranteed yesterday was that Saracens’ two-year spell as champions is over and they will be back on home soil for the semi-final against Scarlets in three weeks.
Munster will go to France for a European semi-final filled with belief after edging an epic in Thomond Park.
Hot on the heels of Ireland's Grand Slam success, Munster, Leinster and Connacht will resume their race to Bilbao this weekend.
A moment of truth for a team on the up, a sense-check of their position in the European game and an opportunity to move closer to ending a six-year wait for their fourth Champions Cup. The stakes are high for Leinster against Saracens.
Leo Cullen says Sean O'Brien was close to being fit enough to feature against Saracens on Sunday but ultimately the European Champions Cup quarter-final came too soon for the Tullow Tank who misses out with a shoulder issue.
The vanguard is shrinking, but there are enough members of the glorious Leinster era to remind the young 'uns of what is expected and what can be achieved.