Leinster boss Leo Cullen is happy with the United Rugby Championship organisers’ decision to have the Grand Final hosted by the best-placed team as his side are close to securing top spot.
Speculation pointed towards a fixed venue for the showpiece game being played in South Africa, but that was ended with the recent announcement from the organisers.
Close to securing top spot
Cullen believes that the decision rewards the best-placed team and has the commercial benefit of selling enough tickets. Leinster are just two points away from securing the top spot but face a tough Stormers side in the second game of their South African tour.
“Yeah, what do we need, two more points to guarantee top spot?” said Cullen to the Irish Times.
“It doesn’t guarantee you any success but it guarantees you your home comforts, I guess.
“So you try and stack the deck as much as you possibly can in your favour. I think it’s probably just reward.
“Could you set a destination final in advance? I don’t know the commercials around that, but I think that’s hard to do based on what we have seen with Super Rugby. Super Rugby never went with that destination final, they always had it as the home team.
“And even still with a week to sell, even with a home team we know it’s not as straightforward as people think. Middle of June, there’s lots of other things going on as well in terms of competition for punters’ time. That’s probably the big challenge from a commercial point of view.”
Cullen selected an inexperienced squad to travel to South Africa to rest other players ahead of their Champions Cup quarter-final and believes despite losing to the Sharks 28-23 in Durban last weekend, the players held their own.
“The way the system works you can only squeeze so much out of our players and our players are our assets at the end of the day, aren’t they?” said Cullen, also highlighting their November, Six Nations and summer tour commitments with Ireland.
“We were confident that they would give a decent account of themselves so the challenge for us is to try to do it again this week. I think you can get a young group up for a game, but the challenge is to try and get them up for another game.
“The Stormers are a different type of team, a lot more attacking threat in terms of the way they play. That’s to do with the conditions then as well, because when you’re in Durban, the humidity, there’s been quite a bit of rain, it’s been a lot harder for them to play so they have much more of a power game and a kicking game, whereas the Stormers will throw the ball around a lot, keep the ball alive, offloading out of contact all the time.
“They’re more akin to a Toulouse, say, trying to keep the ball off the floor and less inclined to set up rucks. They’re a good team to watch. If you watched their game against Glasgow [which the Stormers won 32-7] and some of the tries that they scored, they’re a very, very dangerous team.”
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