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Racing 92 confirm Stuart Lancaster approach as Leo Cullen keeps counsel on 'silly season' speculation

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Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen. Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile

RACING 92 have confirmed the club has spoken to Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster about a move to France at the end of next season.

Current coach Laurent Travers, who is set to become club president next season in a move that is expected to open the door for the ex-England supremo, who is thought to be strongly considering the proposal to move to Paris, said the two parties intend on speaking again in the coming days.

According to reports, Lancaster is due to meet Racing president Jacky Lorenzetti which may be the final step towards confirming the move.

"I'm going to be clear, a lot things are written, a lot aren't true. There have been talks and there are talks, we're not going to hide it," Travers told the media today.

Earlier in the day, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen refused to comment on the speculation linking Lancaster to Racing 92.

The former second-row admitted that he has held talks with Lancaster about his future, but would not be drawn on where the ex-England coach would be beyond the end of the current campaign.

While he didn’t confirm that the highly-rated coach would be departing at the end of his seventh campaign in Ireland at a press conference in the RDS this afternoon, Cullen didn’t shed any light on whether he’d be staying either.

“We talk all the time, always during the season," Cullen said when asked if he’d discussed the future with Lancaster.

“You think you are coming to the start of the season but everyone is always making plans for the future. That’s players and staff and the backroom team as well.

“So it is like the silly season is there, always, up until a point where things get finalised.

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“So we are in a period of speculation, shall we say, and we can’t comment on other people’s speculation you know what I mean but there has always been things going on in the background.

“We are very lucky that we have a very strong group, some great people in our building and that’s credit to a lot of the work that goes on over the last number of years so we are very lucky in that regard.

“But the reality is there is lots of other clubs who look at the talent, whether that is players or coaches, we have and that is something we have to deal with all of the time and people make different decisions at different stages.

“And we are trying to talk about one person specifically who has been amazing since he came into Leinster."

Asked if Lancaster would be a particularly significant loss due to his contribution since coming on board in 2016, Cullen said: “Like, again, we are just commenting on speculation, how long have you got here? But you need to deal with all these cases individually. Just the nature of it, like, generally people are signing for not much longer than two years.

“So it is always, every year fifty per cent of your coaching and playing and coaching are off contract and you just have to go though with that and you know that’s part of the evolution of teams, never stays the same.

“You know, we say it towards the end of every season where you are coming to the end of the season but that group is never going to be the same again.

"If you think, Denis Leamy is now down there coaching at Munster. Felipe (Contepomi) is now involved with coaching Argentina during the Rugby Championship and their is other players who have already started their careers in other teams. We had lads playing for Connacht up in Ravenhill last week and a couple of lads I see running out in Exeter jerseys as well.

“So that’s just part and parcel of the business we are in.”

Cullen has welcomed the majority of his Ireland players back for tomorrow’s game against Benetton at the RDS (kick-off, 7.35).

“I’m excited to see this group play. There are always plenty of challenges, every team has some level of challenge. Trying to reintegrate guys for their first game of the season against a team who had a big win last week,” he said.

“You're playing against guys who maybe have two or three games under their belt, there's a bit of a challenge there, and it's important for our guys to respect that. The lads trained hard this week, it's been a short week, but we're excited to be back here at the RDS.

"We finished last season, losing a game at the RDS, so it's up to all of us, anyone involved in the team, creating a level of excitement about being back at the RDS.

"We need to make it exciting in terms of product that the players produce on the field, and everybody feeds into that. We want big crowds here at the RDS, because we know it makes a big difference.”


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