O'Donovan fed up with English and French whinging
Munster forwards team manager Niall O’Donovan is tired of listening to English and French clubs' repeated threats to pull out of the Heineken Cup.
By Declan Whooley
As has happened regularly before, their governing bodies have threatened to boycott the competition as they feel RaboDirect PRO12 sides gain an unfair advantage for qualification.
Currently the Celtic nations have 10 places, and English and French chiefs want to reduce this so that only the top six in the league qualify, as is the case in the Premiership and Top 14, while also introducing a relegation system.
Speaking ahead of Munster’s first league game of the season, O’Donovan believes there is an element of the boy who cried wolf about it all.
“This all happened 12 or 13 years ago as well. When it doesn’t suit England or France, whatever... they’ll complain," the team manager stated.
O’Donovan was quick to point out that it is the “European Cup”, so a spread of teams from different countries is essential.
Premiership rugby chief Mark McCafferty has been highlighting the fact that Irish sides can rest players during the league ahead of Heineken Cup games because there are little consequences, something that cannot be done in England or France. O’Donovan, however, is having none of it.
"If you look at the way the French play their leagues, they play very strong teams at home, they play their weakened teams away, so they are resting players all the way through their season as well."
O’Donovan has pointed to Ireland’s success at provincial level as a blueprint that English and French clubs would be more advised at looking at, rather than the format of the competition.
“They probably look at it and say they’d love to have our system but they have bought into a different system completely. Instead of knocking it at times maybe they should be learning from it,” he suggested.
Despite the logical reason O’Donovan presents, the sour grapes from our Anglo and French neighbours are unlikely to disappear anytime soon.