Sharing Sunday: The Scribbler (@RugbyScribbler) asked me on Twitter for my thoughts on the Pro12 in Europe. What he really meant was my views on the Pro12 in the European Rugby Champions Cup. As it’s going to take more than 140 characters I thought I’d share his views with you and add mine on top.
Let’s start with Treviso and Italy, basically another year of thrashings where they and everybody else gained very little. Well that’s not true, it helped Stade to qualify for the quarter finals as one of the nest 2nd places. Until the Italian sides earn the right for a place in the Champions Cup by their Pro12 placing I think they would gain more from playing in the Challenge Cup. Also it would remove the imbalance that they create in the tournament.
With only two teams in Scotland, they are always going to suffer from more disruption than most in a World Cup season. So I don’t think that this season is a true reflection of what Glasgow are really capable of. The problem is that with sporting careers being so short you can’t afford to throw away one season in four. Scotland really need to try and get a third viable team be it in the boarders or London Scottish to spread the disruption. What I find more concerning is their inability to retain players such as Maitland and Visser. This is probably a sign that they aren’t able to fund that third team at the moment.
As Scribbler says it’s been some years since the Welsh sides have made it to the quarter finals so this year should be no more worrying than any other. Ospreys were very close to qualifying and Scarlets rightly are concentrating on the Pro12. With central contracts and the Union working in more harmony with the Pro12 sides there are reasons for optimism. I can’t help feeling though that Welsh rugby will find a way to shoot its self in the foot like they have with and ambiguous “Gatland Law”.
Finally to the real reason we are all talking about Pro12 in Europe and that is the performance of the Irish sides. Ulster are a side that to my mind have not reached their potential. They are too reliant on one or two players and if they aren’t available they come up short. It’s going to be interesting to see what Les Kiss can achieve over the next season or so. Leinster and Munster though are teams in transition so I’m not worried about the squads. My concerns are on the coaching side. Both Foley and Cullen are inexperienced coaches and I have heard rumours that they got the roles as there were no experienced coaches interested. I understand that you want a growth path for local coaches but I think that they have been rushed into head coaching roles too quickly. My concern for Irish rugby is their ability to attract quality coaches not so much their performance this season.
There are my thoughts on the Pro12 sides in the European Rugby Champions Cup check out Scribbler’s thoughts in his piece as well. We are both very interested in your views so let us know either on our blogs or chat to us on Twitter.