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'For any individuals that I did offend, I apologise to them' - Cullen

Leinster boss Leo Cullen has apologised for his comments about Glasgow being Rangers supporters.
May 24th 2019, 2:21 PM 59,356 90

Updated May 24th 2019, 3:16 PM

Murray Kinsella reports from Celtic Park

LEINSTER COACH LEO Cullen has apologised to anyone who took offence at his comments about Glasgow being Rangers supporters.

The Leinster boss came under fire for his words after his side’s Guinness Pro14 semi-final win over Munster last weekend.

Leo Cullen Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Looking towards the final against Glasgow Warriors in Celtic Park, the home of Scottish football champions Celtic, Cullen jokingly made remarks that drew some ire.

“We are going to go to Glasgow, Celtic Park will be a great atmosphere over there,” said Cullen. 

“I am sure all the Celtic fans will be out supporting Leinster because I believe Glasgow are all Rangers supporters. Hopefully, we will have a big crowd over there.”

The reaction to Cullen’s comments was angry in some quarters, with the Leinster coach’s words being perceived as provocative and even sectarian by some critics.

Jim Craig, one of Celtic’s famous ‘Lisbon Lions’ team that won the 1967 European Cup, said he would like to speak with Cullen about his comments.

“If I ever meet Mr Cullen I’ll have a private word with him,” Craig told The Scotsman. “He got publicity over his words and maybe that’s what he was wanting.”

Speaking after his side’s captain’s run in Celtic Park today, Cullen began his press conference with a statement to apologise.

“After the game last week, our semi-final, I made a comment that seemed to attract plenty of attention,” said Cullen.

“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.”

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Leo Cullen and Dave Rennie Cullen with Glasgow head coach Dave Rennie at Celtic Park today. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

The Leinster boss has made three changes to his starting team, with out-half Johnny Sexton returning to the XV after being rotated onto the bench last week, while Scott Fardy comes into the second row for the injured Devin Toner.

Rob Kearney returns at fullback after recovering fully from a head injury, meaning his brother Dave misses out on the matchday 23 as Jordan Larmour shifts from the 15 shirt to the wing.

After IRFU performance director David Nucifora said yesterday that the union is very hopeful that 33-year-old Kearney will extend his contract beyond the end of the 2019 World Cup, Cullen expressed a similar sentiment.

“We’d be very hopeful that Rob stays as well and because it’s a little bit later, ideally you’d like to have these things done normally, but with the way some of the contracts roll with the World Cup it’s a little bit later, so that’s why it has probably taken a little bit longer,” said Cullen.”

“But we’re very keen for Rob to stay, we hope he does but I’m sure he has interest [from elsewhere], but I thought Rob was exceptional in the Saracens game. He comes back in fresh this week so hopefully, it’s a good boost for our guys.”

Jack McGrath won’t have the opportunity to end his Leinster career on the pitch after Ed Byrne was selected ahead of him on the bench, while Sean O’Brien is in a similar boat ahead of his move to London Irish, although he misses out through injury.

Cullen indicated that there will be an update on O’Brien’s hip issue next week. The flanker will hope to be fit in time to start pre-season with Ireland ahead of the World Cup in September.

“Seanie he has just been a little bit slower now, we will probably have a bit more of an update on him next week,” said Cullen. “You know he has been struggling a bit with a hip injury that has been ongoing for a while, which ruled him out of this week.” 

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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