Ireland star Gordon D’Arcy on Leinster’s double trouble

Ireland star Gordon D’Arcy on Leinster’s double trouble

Former Ireland star Gordon D’Arcy says it is taking an “enormous effort” for Leinster Rugby to be competing for silverware on two fronts.

The Dublin-based outfit are the only BKT URC team left in the Investec Champions Cup, with a Croke Park semi-final against Northampton Saints coming up next week.

Before that, they face a crucial league encounter with the DHL Stormers in Cape Town on Saturday evening.

Just to ramp up the pressure, they are now only one point clear of Glasgow Warriors at the top of the BKT URC table following their 44-12 defeat to the Emirates Lions in Johannesburg last weekend.

D’Arcy, who spent 17 years playing for Leinster, feels his former team's main title rivals have a big advantage in just being able to concentrate on the league.

“Competing on two fronts takes an enormous effort,” said the 82-cap ex-centre, speaking on a BKT URC round table.

“You wonder if it can be done with the way the season is structured.

“If you look at La Rochelle, they have had all the success in the Champions Cup, but haven’t won the Top 14 yet.

“Ultimately, Leinster haven’t won a trophy for the last couple of seasons. They have been there or thereabouts, but haven’t got over the line.

“They have been here before, at the top of the table and in the final stages of Europe, but now the paradigm has shifted with the South African teams in the BKT URC.

“They earned it earlier in the season to be able to send down a weakened squad for these two games.

“But if they lose this week, they have all but removed any flexibility.

“You look at all the teams up near the top of the table, you look at Glasgow, Munster, the Bulls, the Stormers.

“All these sides only have to focus on one competition, whereas Leinster have one eye firmly on both. It’s really hard.

“The era of them being able to fall back to a BKT URC title is absolutely gone because those other teams are focusing the last eight weeks of their season purely on the league, meaning they have an advantage over Leinster who are competing on two fronts.”

Reflecting on the league leaders’ heavy defeat to the Lions and their upcoming trip to Cape Town, D’Arcy said: 

“It massively puts extra pressure on them.

“You go from the celebration of the Champions Cup win over La Rochelle and then come down.

“They won’t be particularly happy with the performance. It was very un-Leinster like.

“It adds a huge amount of pressure this week.

“If you are the Stormers now, you are looking at that and almost rubbing your hands. It’s the perfect match for them to be coming back in after losing to the Ospreys.

“This trip has suddenly become very, very hard for Leinster. Any latitude down in South Africa has gone now.”

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