Belfast Telegraph

Leinster rugby coach apologises for 'Glasgow players all support Rangers' comments

Leinster coach Leo Cullen.
Leinster coach Leo Cullen.

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Leinster coach Leo Cullen has apologised for remarks he made in the wake of his side's Guinness PRO14 semi-final win over Munster.

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The former Ireland second-row caused a stir in Scotland when he said "Glasgow rugby players all support Rangers, I’ve been told" and called on Celtic fans to come out and support his team against Glasgow Warriors at Celtic Park tomorrow.

The comments were made fully in cheek, but that was lost in translation as they crossed the North Channel and drew the ire of Lisbon Lion Jim Craig while generated plenty of headlines in Scotland ahead of the final.

And ahead of tomorrow's eagerly anticipated clash, Cullen opened his press conference by addressing the issue head on.

"After the game last week, our semi-final, I made a comment that seemed to attract plenty of attention," he said in his opening remarks.

"Just so that we're all aware, it was a throwaway remark, it was made in jest and I didn't mean to offend anyone. For any individuals that I did offend, I apologise to them.

"But we're delighted to be here. I made my Ireland Schools debut back in 1995 in Glasgow against the Scottish Schoolboys and we have been coming here on a very regular basis to Glasgow with Leinster.

"To see the progression from Hughenden to Firhill to Scotstoun and to be playing a game here in Celtic Park is amazing to have been part of that progression.

"We're unbelievably excited. Leinster feel very privileged to be here and we're looking forward to what will hopefully be a very good encounter between two very, very competitive bunches of players."

Cullen then looked to turn the focus back to the game itself as Leinster look to finish the season on a high by retaining their PRO14 crown.

"We've tried to prepare well, we've been very busy in getting ready for another final," he said.

"Everyone has worked hard to get to this point. The season is so unusual, the PRO14 by its very nature, we start in September and you think of the trips we've had along the way.

"It started off in Wales, we make our way through the early stages, a trip to South Africa to contend with, you come back and have your Christmas derby games. You have your break for the Six Nations where you play three more games during that window and then for us we've been trying to fight on two fronts, which has its challenges.

"We've used a lot of players to get to this point, so we get to the end of the season and we need to make sure we stay the course, prepare well, like we've tried to do all season.

"I have to give a huge amount of credit to the players, not just the ones that are named in the 23 this week but all the players.

"We've used a huge chunk of players to get us to this point, 57.

"Glasgow are in a pretty similar situation themselves and we're two teams that are affected in the most similar fashion in that we lose a lot of players to the national team.

"That's such an important part of both clubs' models that they run."

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