Rugby

Eddie O'Sullivan Absolutely Nails The Problem With The Expanded Pro 14

Eddie O'Sullivan Absolutely Nails The Problem With The Expanded Pro 14

Former Irish head coach Eddie O'Sullivan has given an honest and withering assessment of the decision for Pro14 organisers to invite two South African team into the Guinness Pro14 this season.

The Cheetahs and the Southern Kings were cut from the Super Rugby Championship last season but were given an olive branch by Pro Rugby to join a newly formed Pro14 this season.

Unfortunately the experiment hasn't started out well, with Leinster players Isa Nacewa and Jamison Gibson-Park were sent home yesterday after being denied entry into South Africa they did not have the required visas New Zealanders need to get into the country.

Speaking on Newstalk's Off the Ball, O'Sullivan said he is not against the expansion of the tournament, but felt delaying it until next season would have been more logical instead of being hastily rushed together now.

It is tough as well on the teams who have to go to South Africa because I know they didn't have the definites on where they were going until three or four weeks before the off of the tournament, and you see that Leinster got caught today with paper work for Isa Nacewa and Jameson Gibson-Park, who are heading back to Dublin.

I suppose to be fair to Leinster - and they are probably getting criticised - but this whole trip was probably put together in a bit of a hurry. Had they known six months ago, this could have been sorted.

Leinster, along with Zebre, are the first team to travel to South Africa for a two game tour this season, after the Cheetahs and Southern Kings have played two games in Europe over the last couple of weeks.

They could be forgiven that they were caught out with paperwork for Nacewa and Gibson-Park, but O'Sullivan has been far from impressed with how the two new sides have acquitted themselves in their opening games,

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If they had hit the ground running and brought something to the tournament, but if this goes on where they are shipping 40 or 50 points every week...

The tournament is not a fantastic tournament because we know there was two or three whipping boys every year, and they were usually the Italian teams. If you didn't get a bonus point win against them it was a missed opportunity.

Hopefully Bernard Jackman can turn the Dragons around but that is not going to be an overnight thing, so that is three teams you know that you generally tend to pitch up and put away.

Now you have another two teams in the league who might fall into that category, and I don't think it does the tournament any good to be honest with you.

They are already talking about expanding it to America and Canada, which would be great again if it comes off, but again, it's like a cart in front of a horse.

I just worry that the quality of the tournament suffers and I think at the moment it is worrying but maybe this all changes and we can relax, but when you saw the way the Cheetahs were just torn to shreds in Thomand Park last Saturday, it was just embarrassing to watch and it was no good for anybody.

It is difficult not to be too downbeat, the Cheetahs and the Kings have played two matches each, conceding a combined total of 182 points between them, scoring just 57 points in the process.

The new tournament is only two weeks old and both sides should be given every opportunity to make it a success, however on the evidence so far, it could be until the 2019/20 before the South African sides find their feet.

Listen to the full Eddie O'Sullivan interview here.

See Also: Ulster Produce Stirring Documentary Remembering The Life of Nevin Spence

James Carroll

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