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The Secret To The Pro12 Gaining Popularity Was Staring Us In The Face All Along

The Secret To The Pro12 Gaining Popularity Was Staring Us In The Face All Along
By Conor Neville
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The sorry exit of the Irish provinces from the group stage of the Champions Cup has done wonders for the profile of the Guinness Pro12.

This formerly unloved and once widely ignored competition was regarded as a rinky dink consolation prize during the Irish heyday of the Heineken Cup.

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Frequently, it was a place where provincial second stringers and up-and-comers could get a run out against a soulless and underperforming Welsh franchise team. The international mega stars, often away on more important business, would only definitely return to the competition come late spring/early summer when there was silverware to be won.

At the turn of the decade, there wasn't even a danger that an abject performance in our 'domestic League' would result in exclusion from the Heino. Consistent Irish success guaranteed all the provinces entry. You might remember that it was this detail which so aggravated the frazzled and overworked sloggers of the Aviva Premiership.

Now the competition sits front and centre of the whole rugby discussion. All those marketing guys who spent their days brainstorming ways to get some Pro12 buzz going have now discovered where the answer lay all along.


Just watch the Irish sides to turn to shite in European competition.


Of course, the radical improvement of Connacht has become a rare good news story in what has been a downbeat season for Irish rugby.

Last weekend provided the most graphic illustration of both their ascension and, perhaps more pointedly, Munster's decline.

The development of these two storylines has been the most compelling from this watershed season for the Pro12.


Irish rugby's most fearless and colourful provocateur Neil Francis indulged in an imaginative flight of fancy when trying to describe the spectacle of Connacht devouring Munster in the Sportsground.

That Connacht bizarrely opted to kick for goal in the final play when the game was already won and the bonus point secured stuck with Francis. A sore one for Munster.

There you have it. Connacht have pissed all over Munster.


If they do go ahead and win the Pro12, it will do wonders for the tournament. A Pro12 win will be celebrated with infinitely greater enthusiasm Galway than in the RDS.

Read more: The 10 Best Connacht Players Ever To Play For Ireland

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