English rugby scribe fumes that Leinster will play at Croke Park

English rugby scribe fumes that Leinster will play at Croke Park

Stephen Jones, the English rugby journalist, has taken issue with the fact that Leinster have been given home advantage for their Champions Cup semi-final game against the Northampton Saints next week.

Leinster overcame La Rochelle 40-13 in the quarterfinals, and as a result of the win, they will get a home-country advantage in Dublin. Also, the usual venue that's used for Champions Cup games, the Aviva Stadium, is being used for the Europa League this month. This means that Leinster will play in Croke Park for the first time since 2009.

The decision to have the game played in the same country as where one of the teams normally play has created a debate around the fairness of the competition.

Jones, who has played down Ireland's recent success under Andy Farrell in recent times, is one of the many rugby commentators who feels the game being played in Croke Park gives Leinster an unfair advantage in the semi-finals.

"They will face Leinster, who beat La Rochelle 40-13, in the semi-final, and in a massive shock, Leinster are not hosting it at their home ground, the Aviva Stadium, because it is the venue for the Europa League final," said Jones in his Sunday Times column.

"It is not to cast aspersions on anyone, but the last time they played an away game, their boots had wooden studs.

"They have the home country advantage as the competition's second-ranked team but will now have to walk all the way to Croke Park, also in Dublin, of course.

"The organisers of this tournament have made it partially ridiculous by allowing the seedings from months ago to apply all the way through until the final, which has devalued the event and given Leinster a ludicrously priceless advantage."

Jones' comments come a month after he called the Irish team arrogant before the England vs. Ireland game in the Six Nations. England won the game that week by a single point thanks to a late Marcus Smith drop goal.

"There will be no discussion about Ireland’s attitude. They will be merciless; they are a merciless team. All the rest of their game is subordinate to attacking the opposition up front, in the tackle, and just behind the forward phases," said Jones in the piece for The Sunday Times in March

"For me and many others, they remain at their best, and they are the best team in the world...

"England cannot afford to subside lamely or to give us a "we’ll-be-better-next-time" promise. The implications of a hammering would be horrendous. They should close their ears to the crowing Irish and to the flecks of arrogance now emerging around the team."

Leinster play the Northampton Saints next week on May 4 at 5:30.