United Rugby Championship: Leinster’s Felipe Contepomi backs the competition as a rugby product

Dylan Coetzee

Leinster's Felipe Contepomi before the Champions Cup match at the RDS Arena, Dublin.

Leinster assistant coach Felipe Contepomi has vouched for the United Rugby Championship’s credibility as the tournament heads towards the end of its inaugural season.

Previously the PRO14 but rebranded with the addition of four South African teams, the URC has been a breath of fresh air offering new challenges for coaches and players.

New challenges

Contepomi believes the challenges for the coaches are enjoyable, and the quality of rugby is good, even better than the Top 14.

“I personally think the URC is a great competition,” he said.

“For coaches, it’s unbelievable because you play against different style week in, week out; different sorts of rugby and within your style and your philosophy, how you adapted to different styles is great.

“Also for spectators and everything, it’s a great tournament to be involved in. In terms of attraction … I watch a lot of rugby, I watch Top 14, and URC is much more attractive rugby. There’s much better rugby than in many games in the Top 14,” said Contepomi.

The Argentine believes his team have nothing to prove after making improvements this season and being able to beat all different kinds of teams throughout the season.

“If you ask me Toulouse are more similar to La Rochelle than the Bulls would be and we beat Toulouse,” said the Argentine. “If you ask me, Leicester are a very power-based team and we beat Leicester. So I wouldn’t say we have to prove ourselves against anybody.

“We need to make sure that we keep improving ourselves and we compete against ourselves in terms of making sure that we improve.”

Leinster’s ethos is to continuously look to improve and reach new heights, something Contepomi believes they have done this year.

“If you see Leinster this year compared to last year I think we’ve made improvements,” he added. “We are a better team than we were last year and for me that’s what you’re looking for in a team; always keep evolving and getting better.

Looking ahead to Leinster’s semi-final against the Bulls in Dublin, the former fly-half likes how power-based teams force his side to play differently and claimed he would not compare the Pretoria side to La Rochelle.

“I think having teams like the Bulls, Sharks or maybe the South African team that are very power-based teams, it gives us a different alternative on how to play a different sort of game, and that’s growing and learning for our team as well, so it’s great to have them.

“But I wouldn’t make a comparison between the Bulls and La Rochelle. We lost against La Rochelle in the last minute and we did things that we could have done differently and probably win that game. We weren’t far off. We weren’t thrashed by La Rochelle. We weren’t beaten in every single corner of the pitch.”

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