2024 Vodacom Bulls vs Leinster - Semifinal #1

'It's An Unbelievably Exciting Challenge, Isn't It?' - Leo Cullen

'It's An Unbelievably Exciting Challenge, Isn't It?' - Leo Cullen

Leinster Rugby head coach Leo Cullen previews his team's BKT United Rugby Championship semifinal clash with the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.

Jun 10, 2024 by Philip Bendon
'It's An Unbelievably Exciting Challenge, Isn't It?' - Leo Cullen

As the saying goes, ‘The road less traveled is often the road to success,’ or so Leinster Rugby will be hoping when departing the Dublin airport with Pretoria as the destination.

For the first time in the history of the BKT United Rugby Championship, Leinster will play a knockout game outside of Dublin. 

Coming on the heels of a less-than-impressive finish to the regular season, where they prioritized the Investec Champions Cup final, the men in blue will need to do it the hard way if they are to win this year’s title.

Downing rival Ulster in convincing fashion in the quarterfinals to set up a match against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, Leinster will undertake a knockout run unlike any in the province’s history.

Speaking ahead of the trip down south, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said his side was embracing the challenge that lies ahead.

“It is a great challenge, and that's what you want, you want different experiences,” Cullen said.

Paying homage to the added competitiveness the South African sides have brought to the URC, Cullen said, “That's the beauty of having the big four South African teams in the competition.”

Changing tack slightly, Cullen touched on the fact that his side was desperate for silverware, having lost the last three Investec Champions Cup finals, as well as the last two BKT URC semifinals.

“You know, expectation and the pressures as in, you know, to think we haven't won the last three finals," he said. “But you know, like, that was a thing of dreams once upon a time to play in three finals in a row.

“Then, you throw in the dynamic of this competition that you've got to juggle that over the course of the season, and your players being back and forth with Six Nations and November internationals.

“But yeah, it's an unbelievably exciting challenge, isn't it?”

Of course, professional rugby began in the Southern Hemisphere with the advent of the Super Rugby competition, with the Bulls being South Africa’s most successful union, with three titles during their time in the competition.

“So, to think back to when professionalism started, and you're watching Super Rugby, and they were up there," Cullen said.

Focusing on his team, Cullen was quick to point out the experience within the group and their previous outing against the Bulls earlier this season when they thumped the South African side 47-14 in Dublin.

“There's so much experience in our group, so it's just about embracing the challenge now, isn't it?" he added. “Making sure we're imposing our game on the opposition, which is the Bulls. We played the Bulls ourselves. when they had a fully loaded group. We were coming off the back of Six Nations.

“We had a sort of mix of some guys coming back in from Six Nations, and we had some guys who had played against Zebre the previous week.”

The action will get underway live, and exclusively, on FloRugby at 3 p.m. local time in South Africa (9 a.m. Eastern).

How To Watch Rugby Matches In the United States On FloRugby

The Investec Champions Cup will stream all its matches on FloRugby and the FloSports app in the United States. FloRugby and FloSports also are the U.S. home to:

FloRugby also is home to match archives and match replays. 

Join The Rugby Conversation On FloRugby Social