Bernard Jackman: Bulls have ‘too many flaws’, a Leinster loss would be a ‘big failure’

Jared Wright
Marco van Staden of the Bulls is tackled by Ross Molony of Leinster and Bernard Jackman.

Marco van Staden of the Bulls is tackled by Ross Molony of Leinster and Bernard Jackman.

Former Ireland hooker and respected pundit Bernard Jackman believes that a Bulls victory in the United Rugby Championship (URC) semi-finals would be a “big failure” for Leinster.

Leo Cullen’s side are aiming to end their three-year trophyless run after reaching a hat-trick of Investec Champions Cup final defeats, with their last title being the 2020/21 PRO14.

In the debut URC season, Leinster were knocked out in the quarter-finals, losing to the Bulls in Dublin, and last season they fell to eventual champions Munster in the semi-final.

Leinster led the URC standings for much of the season, but in late April, they opted to rest most of their frontline players for the two games in South Africa, against the Lions and the Stormers.

Defeats in Johannesburg and Cape Town, as well as a loss to Ulster, meant that they finished fourth overall and eventually ended up on the road for the semi-final.

Bulls’ home play-off record

Loftus Versveld is historically an incredibly difficult place to visit, but even more so in play-off matches, with the Pretoria-based side winning seven of their eight knockout games at the iconic stadium – Jake White’s Brumbies in 2013 being the only team to claim an away play-off win.

Still, Jackman believes that anything other than a victory would be a failure for the Irish province.

“If Leinster lose to the Bulls, it’s a big, big failure on their part,” Jackman said on’s Rugby Weekly podcast.

“The Bulls aren’t all that. Munster have gone down there and beat them. Benetton made them look very average, there’s too many flaws in their performance. I haven’t been overly impressed by them.”

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While White’s Bulls have not impressed Jackman in recent weeks, the former hooker piled the pressure on Leinster, who, in his view, will have no excuses.

“Look, Leinster have to build it up as being an incredible expedition to get to Pretoria and the challenge of getting back, but I think there’s no excuse here,” he said.

“You have the best team in the URC on paper, you have the most internationals and you’ve been able to rest them during the year as best you can, so there’s no distractions.”

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Leinster to win by four

While Jackman was bullish in his initial preview of the match, he added that this would still be a challenge for Leinster and one that they have failed to rise to in recent seasons.

“It’s obviously a contest, I accept that the travel and the home crowd make it harder for Leinster but I think they will win by more than four points… I think Leinster will do a job on them,” he added.

“Leinster unfortunately have cracked under similar circumstances so there’s a doubt there but I don’t think the Bulls are as good as Toulouse or La Rochelle potentially could be. Leinster should be able to win this one.”

Meanwhile, White has played up the underdogs tag for the hosts and has encouraged fans to come out to Loftus and fill up the stadium for the clash.

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