The presence of the South African franchises in the Champions Cup will only make it more difficult for the Irish provinces to win the title, according to former Leinster and Ireland scrum half Eoin Reddan.
Leinster were beaten in the dying minutes of the Heineken Champions Cup final by Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle on Saturday.
It was the third year in a row that Leo Cullen's side have been knocked out by a more physically dominant side. It was also the third time that Will Skelton was a deciding factor in the physical battle against Leinster, having previously beaten Leinster with Saracens in 2019.
The loss continue's Leinster's hunt for a fifth European star. Now that South Africa's URC contingent can qualify for the Champions Cup, Reddan, believes that Leinster's task will only get more difficult.
Speaking on Wednesday Night Rugby, Reddan explained why he thinks that European trophy will only be more difficult to win as the years go on.
"For me, it makes you realise how hard these trophies are to win," Reddan said. "For a while you could find of fall into the trap where you underestimate that.
"I don't think it is going to get easier to win these trophies. I'm sure of that. I actually think the tournament could be heading to, potentially, a massive stage in world rugby.
"I think it could become the tournament to win around the globe for players. Maybe even to the point where you haven't won [anything] until you've won this medal.
"That is to do with the South African players joining."
Reddan feels that the inclusion of the South African teams will make the Champions Cup, and the Challenge Cup by association, the premier rugby tournament to win across the world.
"I think the credibility of this tournament is going to go through the roof," Reddan said. "I think the standard of play is going to go through the roof, even higher.
"I think people are going to be bigger. It is going to be more physical. I think you are going to see the South African teams getting stronger each year now as they join and play in this amazing tournament, which is already capturing the eye across the world.
"So, I don't think it is going to get any easier to win."
Ireland will have to outthink their opponents more now
Questions over Leinster's physicality have been brought up after every one of their European exits. Similarly, Ireland are also consistently questioned about their physicality and size every time a bigger team outmuscles them.
"We're still always battling, I believe," Reddan said. "Every time we lose a game at this level it always comes down to, yes a few calamitous errors, but the trend you see is usually around power and size.
"It is the same at international level. So, we are always trying to find ways of keeping the ball in play longer, which nullifies that sometimes, and coming up with different, smart ways of beating that.
"We will have to continue to do that for all the provinces and for Ireland."
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