Friday 17 January 2020

A winning culture

Coach Contepomi pushes the importance of Blues defence

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster at squad training Pic: Sportsfile
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster at squad training Pic: Sportsfile

Leinster have progressed to a point where they are no longer judged on their last game.

It is simply the way of the machine that backs coach Felipe Contepomi is unmoved by all the plaudits showered down on the province from the outside.

If you let them leak in, the whole roof could come down on their heads and wash away a culture that has been painstakingly built.

"You don't have to be carried away by what people say because the beauty of sport is that you're as good as the next game you play," he said.

"So people can say whatever they want."

At the moment, Leinster are the toast of European rugby, the standard by which all others are measured.

It was just two years ago that they were languishing as a mid-ranking power with an unknown future.


The employment of Stuart Lancaster has led to a change in the way everyone else looks at Leinster.

"They can bump you up or say you're really bad, if you don't score or you don't win games.

"It's about your reality, knowing what you have to do to improve, where you have to improve and actually working hard to do it, to improve."

Leinster know they have to be better in round three at the Recreation Ground tomorrow than they were in Toulouse in round two.

Joe Schmidt will have noticed how Leinster have mirrored Ireland in becoming comfortable holding onto the ball for long periods.

The end-goal is the same, the how of getting there slightly different.

"I don't know if it's the way the game is moving, maybe it's the way it suits some teams," said Contepomi.

"From our perspective, it's not just about holding the ball until an opportunity unfolds."

This can come from a strike play or from the gradual erosion of defences through methodical manipulation. This is where Jonathan Sexton's rugby IQ comes into the equation.

"We try to create and detect opportunities," explained Contepomi.

"It's not just holding onto the ball for the sake of it.

"It's about moving and putting yourself in good shape, the shape we want to play and when the opportunities appear, take them."

In simple terms, there are two sides to the game, attack and defence.

Contepomi was keen to push how finding the balance between the two has been overlooked.

"I would say that we're very good because we defend well.

"We don't concede many points, so the day that we don't score 40 points, we'll probably be able to win a game because we don't concede that many.

"While there are other teams that score a lot of points, but they conce de 30 points.

"The day that you don't score 31 then you lose the game."

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