Munster’s Early Exit

Posted: January 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

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Munster lost some big games in the past: quarter finals, semi finals, and Heineken Cup finals. Only the players and coaches can fully understand how much that hurts.

But today, losing by 20 points to Stade Francais, in a competition they used to dominate, is a different hurt. 27-7 will be seen as an embarrassment to these players. A hurt that won’t go away for a long time to come.

Conor Murray’s late try offers absolutely zero consolation. In fact, I’m surprised the try was given. If it had gone to TMO, I’m confident he would have said Scannell’s foot was in touch before the offload.

Losing to Leicester in Thomond Park highlights their season. A once proud history and culture is slowly being taken apart, piece by piece. This is a club which lives and breathes the European competition. It’s now choking.

Some Munster fans are quick to point the finger at Foley, and as the man in charge he must shoulder some of the blame. But they can be assured that this loss of form and early exit from Europe will haunt him as much as it haunts the players. He has been officially involved with the club for the past 21 years, either as a player, assistant coach or head coach. He won two Heineken Cups as a player, one as captain.

But he has been involved for far longer than 21 years. His father, Brendan, was a Munster player. In fact, he played on the team which beat the All Blacks on that faithful day in 1978. No doubt he would have brought his son into the dressing room, to training sessions, to games. Anthony Foley grew up with Munster. He has been a one-club man since he was born.
 
For him to see his team perform like this is as tough for him as it is the fans. But he should not be head coach and the coaching staff need to take a hard look at themselves.

Munster offered very, very little in attack tonight. The signing of Saili was justified as he was an All Black. At the moment I am not sure how. Not for the first game this season, he offered little in attack and made more than one defensive mistake. He doesn’t pass the ball, and tonight, when he did, it was forward. No try.

It is difficult to blame Saili alone for that mistake, as Scannell should have held his depth more. A simple two-on-one should be a try ten times out of ten. What has the attack coach been doing?

Two-on-ones are taught to children. It’s one of the most basic skills you learn growing up and is one of the most simple situations to capitalise on. But Munster didn’t.

The ‘never give up’ attitude of the Munster of old was non-existant. The players slipped off tackles, gave away penalties and just faded away. Munster were famous for their dogged attitude, a bitterness. No longer.

CJ Stander reminds me of Sergio Parisse in throughout the 2000’s. Parisse emptied the tank for Italy (he still does) to no avail. Italy still lost-it was only a question of by how much. But he gave his all for the team, regardless. A bit like Stander now.

This has been the worst European Munster team in history. The scrum was demolished. The breakdown was sloppy. Attacking threats, when they appeared, were wasted (bar one extremely lucky try). Their decision making was poor. They kick away possession from turnovers. The list goes on.

The players went out today with no game plan. They have been working on one for the last six weeks, if Foley’s interviews are to be believed. But when they were in possession, it seemed like they didn’t know where to go or what to do. They seemed uncomfortable in possession of the pill.

Keatley may have gotten Man of the Match last week, but it was a once off. He missed his goals again tonight when they most mattered, and after conceding a score he put the restart out on the full. That’s the opposite of what you want from your 10. Your 10 is meant to lift and drive your team forward. Keatley was a hindrance today. You can’t win a game if you can’t kick your points.

Losing three players early in the game may have had an impact, but players are lost early in a lot of games. The Munster of old would have pulled together, drove on and would have forced a win. The would “stand up and fight”. Today they simply imploded.

They are a talented bunch of players-there is no denying that. But their potential is still bottled up at the moment. The players aren’t playing fantastic rugby, nor are the coaches or the game plan inspiring them in the way of Ulster or Connacht at the moment. I’m afraid until a new coaching staff, along with a few key signings, are brought in, not much will change.

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Comments
  1. robharr2 says:

    Worrying times. You’d hope the team would respond to some plan going forward. Keatley could do with a spell off the front line.

    Liked by 1 person

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