Thursday 22 March 2018

Make us earn a Euro spot – Connacht boss

CONNACHT coach Pat Lam is in favour of making teams from the Celtic League qualify on merit for the Heineken Cup, writes CONOR GEORGE.

One of the biggest issues the English and French clubs have is that teams from the Pro12 automatically qualify for the Heineken Cup while Premiership and Top 14 sides must earn the right.

Lam insisted that he does not want Connacht to get in automatically, and is fully confident that they will make the cut on merit.

"There should be a meritocratic system of qualification," said Lam. "I understand the frustrations with qualification not being merit-based for everyone. There are four countries involved in the Celtic (Rabo) League so perhaps the top eight teams from that league qualify for the Heineken Cup. That would be fairer."

Connacht finished last season in eighth position, ahead of Cardiff Blues on points difference. Lam is confident they will continue to improve and will be capable of ensuring they qualify for the competition on their merits.

"We're striving to get better every day and of course we'd aim to be in the top eight and qualify for the Heineken Cup," he said. "It's a competition that is right up there and thought of highly right around the world."

* South Africa hooker Bismarck du Plessis has had the red card he received in Saturday's 29-15 defeat by New Zealand struck from his disciplinary record.

Du Plessis was dismissed after being sent to the sin-bin in each half of the Rugby Championship showdown at Auckland's Eden Park.

Irish Independent

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