James Crombie/INPHO Leinster’s Rónan Kelleher (right) and Ross Byrne.
# dejected
'It’s not a rugby score, it’s a basketball score' - Philippe Saint-André hurt by heavy defeat to Leinster
Montpellier shipped 89 points to the province in a horribly one-sided Champions Cup clash.

PHILIPPE SAINT-ANDRÉ CUT a dejected figure as he entered the RDS press room this evening, the Montpellier head coach fresh from watching his side concede 89 points to Leinster.

It was a clinical display from the hosts, but one that will be marked with an asterisk by Leo Cullen given the lack of resistance offered by their opponents. 

This was Leinster’s first outing since 11 December, but Montpellier have had their own issues too.

The club have been hit hard by Covid since Christmas and saw their most recent Top 14 fixture postponed as a result. On the back of that they sent a severely understrength selection to Dublin today, Saint-André handing out a number of debuts as his inexperienced team felt the full wrath of Leinster’s frustration.

“First, congratulations to Leinster,” Saint-André said.

“We were hurt for the last two and half weeks with Covid. Eighteen guys in my squad had Covid, we couldn’t play last week against, Toulouse (Top 14). Today we managed to have a team but we changed three times the team during the week. We were struggling from the first to the last minute.

“I’ve coached for a long long time. I’ve never lost by this score. There is not so much to say.  

I hope that next week I will have a lot of players back available. Today we finished with nearly all the academy backline against maybe the Irish backline. You can see there was a huge difference. It was men against boys. We have nothing to say. 

“We wanted to play, we didn’t play for the last 20 days. We had injuries, we had a red card too. We’ll come back and hope we’ll have no more Covid in the squad and train again and get back some key players.” 

Montpellier were poor in a number of areas, failing to bring the necessary intensity in the opening period, making a series of poor decisions in possession and looking totally disorganised in defence. 

phillipe-saint-andre-arrives James Crombie / INPHO Montpellier’s head coach Phillipe Saint-Andre arrives ahead of the game. James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

But Saint-Andre admitted the one-sided scoreline, which represents Leinster’s biggest win in European competition, was the most disappointing part of the day.

“The score. It’s not a rugby score, it’s a basketball score,” he said.

“We fight last year to win the shield and be in the competition. And to not show more than this is very painful after we have three or four more positive cases three days ago. A lot in the backline. Today our backline was very young with little experience but I was expecting more than we showed, but Leinster were amazing.

“You concede two early tries and after it’s very difficult to cope with them. They put a high tempo in the game, the conditions were amazing to play.  

Some of our guys are new to this level and others came back shortly after Covid. I didn’t have a tighthead last week. Today, we managed to have two tightheads but one was negative on Tuesday but after 10 minutes he hurt his calf so we couldn’t manage the tempo, and Leinster are so skillful and their bench…

“They bring in the loosehead of Ireland (Cian Healy), the winger from Ireland (James Lowe), one of the best fly-halves in the world was on the bench (Johnny Sexton), congratulations to them.  

“I’m very disappointed because I was expecting at least we show more than what we did today. I don’t want to blame anyone. 

“First it’s my responsibility. After we come back and prepare better next week and show another face than we showed today.”

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