Epic Odyssey

Once again, into the breach – our brave, faithful, honest and passionate warriors once more hitch planes, trains, automobiles, bikes, segways, scooters and all and every mode of transport possible to get to the south of France, where they will walk over molten lava to the ground to pay homage to their heroes, through the misty air stoked by too much pate and too many Kronenburg’s in De Danu the night before.

As much fun as it is to make fun of the Munster stereotype, Munster in Europe is a great story, and the gift that never stops giving. Somehow they always make the HEC about themselves, the selfish bar stewards!

For the second year in succession, it’s Munster who are the lone Irish standard-bearers at this stage of the competition – and again it’s a tough trip to France to play for a place in the final. Munster might have been faced with a feeble Toulouse challenge in the quarters, but it’s easy to get dragged down the their level – just ask Sarries – and Munster did what they needed to do and more, swatting them aside with consumate ease, and running in bucketloads of tries in the process.

We have a huge amount of time for this Munster team – a young pack executing a technically excellent and accurate game with emphasis on set-piece and maul dominance, Europe’s best scrum-half (did you know he played 10 for Garryowen once?) and slippery and creative outside backs who may or may not celebrate too much when they score tries. Great fun to watch and easy to get behind – the cobwebs of the directionless and indisciplined dog days of the McGahan era, with its belly-tickling European knockout performances, have long been swept away.

But while this Munster team had just three representatives on Joe Schmidt’s Championship-winning Ireland team, and are facing a star-studded Toulon operation that slammed a Leinster side festooned with Irish players into the turf and held them down for 80 minutes, don’t think that a hammering is in order. This is the type of occasion Munster live for – just look at last season when they were mighty close to mugging Clermont – and they will be out like dervishes, without any kind of semblence of respect for Toulon’s big names, who will have to go out and win the game.

There is a bit of history there too – the last time the teams played, the dying sting of the Liginds was devoid of any potency and the team played without shape or discipline; they were tonked. But for Saturday that can be ignored – an almost entirely new Munster side (with Earls, Varley, POC and Cawlin possibly the only survivors) will line out, and Jonny Wilkinson and JM Fernandez Lobbe (swoon) may be the only Toulon players who played in that game.  What, no Paul Sackey?

But let’s be honest – Toulon look just too strong for them – a backrow of Fernandez Lobbe, Steffon Armitage and Juan Smith is World XV stuff, and adding Matthieu Bastaread to the breakdown and Wayne Barnes to the middle only ensures a game that will be played on Toulon’s terms, with no prospect of quick ruck ball and moving the point of the attack. Expect Munster to put up a hell of a fight, but it’s tough to see how they can win without Peter O’Mahony and a viable 10-12 axis. The congregation in the parish of St Axel’s have been raving about CJ Stander for a while now, and he had an excellent game against Toulouse, but this is a different level altogether – if he can impact this match as much as he did that, then maybe the hype is justified. And it’s simply impossible to visualise a universe where Ian Keatley and Oooooooooooooooooooooohh James Downey have the game to take on Wilko and Gits.

And we must take this opportunity to once again implore the media not to try and turn this match into a ridiculous galacticos-against-the-parish narrative.  There’s no room for slackers in Toulon’s hiring policy – the so-called galacticos are in fact men of iron who would die with their boots on whoever they were playing for – and the fans and players have a bond no different to that of the Irish provinces in what is a rugby-mad town.

Add in that Toulon’s only loss in their last eight games was in Clermont, and that they have effectively secured a bye in le barrage – they only need to avoid defeat at home to Stade in their last game – and Toulon’s focus will be four-square on defending their HEC trophy (and keeping it forever?). Munster will arrive in Marseille confident and in no mood to lay down, but this Toulon team will eventually overcome them – when you can bring on the likes of Castro and Bryan Habana to face down Stephen Archer and Johne Murphy off the Munster bench, it’s unlikely to end in defeat.  We expect it to be a sort-of-reverse of the Clermont fixture last year.  In that game Clermont stormed out of the traps and threatened to destroy Munster in the first 40 minutes.  But Munster held on by their fingernails and gradually got a grip of the game.  Toulon tenfd to start slower and ratchet up the intensity in increments, so it could be neck-and-neck after 50 to 60 minutes.

Still, Toulon by 8-12 after a mighty first hour.

In the other semi, we fancied Saracens on the basis of home advantage and Clermont’s renowned ability to lose to inferior teams in pressure moments, but we are beginning to waver. On Sunday, Barnesy effortlessly catalogued Sarries ability to lose at home to French teams in recent years, and the memory of their ineptitude in Ravers won’t fade – but for Schalk Brits and Billy Vunipola, they would have lost to a 14-man team missing Rory Best and with Ruan Pienaar flying on one wing. Perhaps Clermont will expose Saracens for what they are – pretenders on the biggest stage. Maybe they need to go off and set up their own tournament or something.

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  1. ruckinhell

     /  April 24, 2014

    If Munster can keep it tight and use the tight 5 dominance (who would have thunk it but we have them in the tight without Bakkies Botha in the engine room and they’ve had a wobbly scrum all season) there’s a glimmer of hope. This is an incredibly strong Toulon team and victory on Sunday would be Munster’s greatest ever victory in my opinion.

    • I’m sorry, dominance? BJ is still a good prop although not the player he was. Archer is injured leaving ye down to a third choice prop with about a half dozen appearances. Kilcoyne is a poor and inconsistent scrummager imo, and Cronin has been out with an ankle injury, so will be a concern assuming he is even fit to play. A lot depends on the ref of course but Munster will be lucky to achieve parity in the scrum.

      • ruckinhell

         /  April 24, 2014

        I take it you haven’t watched much of Munster this season? Munster have consistently won penalties all season long in the scrum (including home and away penalty tries against Perpignan) and it has been one of the most consistent source of points for the team. The team are scrumming very well as a unit and this has been an area of weakness for Toulon. Kilcoyne had a bit of a blip around November coinciding with the rise of Cronin but has been consistently good over the last two months. I have many concerns but the scrum isn’t one of them.

        • I have seen Munster play, not as often as a Munster fan, but enough. Kilcoyne is always getting singled out by the referee’s for playing silly buggers and Barnes doesn’t suffer messing.
          Bar their last game against Glasgow I don’t see much in the Heineken cup stats to show Toulon are creaking, they won 100% of their own put ins against Leinster.
          And if Toulon’s scrum is creaking then what was Perpignan’s doing? They didn’t even use either of their replacement props in the game in France when it was clear their TH especially was physically exhausted.

          In addition your point doesn’t address the fact that Munster may be down to third choice at LH and definitely TH for this game. I wouldn’t back Alan Cotter against Castro and I doubt Penney would either as he only got 4 minutes against Connacht when the game was won. John Ryan is ok, good even, but I don’t think he’s good enough at this level.

          • Full-strength at LH with Cronin expected to be fit, and Botha will most likely play the 80. We’ll see at the weekend.

    • curates_egg

       /  April 24, 2014

      Wrong strategy against Toulon. They are emphatically a second half side – all the history confirms it. There is no hope just hanging in. Either you are up at half time and have a cushion or sayonara.

  2. Munstermicko

     /  April 24, 2014

    I was waiting for this piece all week and you stole my intended comment with your first paragraph!

  3. Cian

     /  April 24, 2014

    Great article, fellas. This Munster fan has, reluctantly, to agree that your prediction is the most likely outcome. I do think, however, that with tactical excellence and a number of players (Keatley, Varley, Downey) having the game of their lives, a Munster victory is achievable.

    While I’d be more than happy if the meeja managed to keep away from the Parish v Galacticos narrative (which they won’t), that’s because it’s old news, not because it’s not true. Yes, Toulon are consummate professionals, yes their fans are passionate and engaged, but that doesn’t change the differences in salaries or the fact that they’re a viable World XXIII and Munster are still largely from Munster! The same would be true of Leinster, Ulster, and many other European teams.

  4. Sound Steve

     /  April 24, 2014

    Slightly off topic but I couldn’t help but notice POM among the nominees for the IRUPA Player of the Year award – the Irish professional rugby playing fraternity must all be big Indo readers….

    • Joe

       /  April 24, 2014

      Who would you have ahead of him? He has had an excellent year.

      Interesting how they picked a player from each of the 3 main provinces – is this usually the case?

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 24, 2014

        An excellent YEAR? Thats a massive stretch, hes had on ok/good year. Watch Juan Smith on the weekend, playing on one leg, awesome 6.

  5. I actually think that Munster’s chances are better if Wilkinson stays on the field for 60+ minutes, as with Mitchell at the reigns for a significant period could stretch them like they did Leinster. I’m living in hope, because if I’m going to the last Heineken Cup Final there had better be an Irish team for me to cheer on!

  6. Bobby T

     /  April 24, 2014

    Keatley and Downey have no chance of taking Wilko-Giteau on and I’d be confident that they have absolutely no intention of attempting it. Have to agree with ruckinhell – this game will be won/lost in the tight 5 where on paper Munster might just about scrape parity. If the game-plan is right Munster could do it just about. Toulon (because they are not blind) have been talking about Munsters line-out and maul all week though and surely will be preparing for the inevitable though. Downey will be a bettering ram at most and Stander and TOD will have a serious job on their hands to get there before Armitage and JMFL. Even when Munster were winning heineken cups they were never the best team in the competition – they won because they were able to admit that to themselves and play accordingly. I hope they have the same attitude this weekend.
    *Side note: Think you guys (and pretty much everyone else) are massively overcritical of McGahan’s ‘directionless…era’. The man was dealt the worst hand possible. An aging team of ‘liginds’ (who as mentioned above were never actually the dogs bollox) and a crop of inexperienced young lads (among them Conor Murray and Peter O’Mahony who according to everyone outside of Munster were talentless Munster media darlings with their hands down DKs pants). Penney is now coaching a team of mid-twenty year olds with 3/4 years together at this stage….it’s no wonder they look more ‘directional’. Munster had a re-building phase to go through and TMcG was there for its lowest point. I am confidetn that if he was still in charge the team would still be in an up-swing.

    • It’s phenomenal that we won two HECs without ever being the best team in Europe. I presume the best team was Biarritz in 2006 and Toulouse in 2008. Great sides.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  April 24, 2014

        We were better in 06, just bottled it on the day, not a single Munster performance scaled the heights of Leinsters best that year, cup rugby is who turns up on the day, see France last WC, deserved winners in the final but for the ref, utter shite for the rest of the tournament.

        • Yes, the better team lost 30-6 that day. It felt very undeserved when Rog leapt over the advertising hoardings in front of me to celebrate his fortuitous try from outside the 22. I quelled my celebrations, and those of the fans around me, with the whispered words, “yes, we may haveabsolutely destroying Leinster today, making their defence look borderline comical, but are we truly the better team? Leinster’s performance in defeating Toulouse in the south of France with swashbuckling rugby is, after all, unprecedented. We should be ashamed of ourselves for denying the better team a chance to win the Heineken Cup.” Then I shook my head sadly and left the game early.

          • *have absolutely destroyed, natch.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 24, 2014

            From the moment Mal messed up on the kick off I knew it was game over, IF we had played the way we did in Toulouse, no one could live with us, high tempo, clued in quick ball rugby wins games, we bottled it.
            Cup rugby is a series of one of games, the best team does not always win due to the vagries of the draw, and on occasion teams bottling it: Un-Zee in 07, 03, Clermont countless times in Europe and in the Top Quatorze. It would not surprise me to see Munster beat Toulon this weekend.

          • Stevo

             /  April 24, 2014

            Thoughtless, as a Leinster fan with a bit of sense I’ll just say very well put!

            LeinsterLion, teams that bottle it do not get to call themselves the best. Outrageous ability and occasional amazing performances do not make you the best. Focusing that ability with a will to win and doing so on regular enough occasions that you can get your name inscribed on trophies are what make you the best.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  April 24, 2014

            Thats nonsense, the All Blacks were clearly the best team in the world from 04 to 07, they battered everyone, best squad, most depth, to say an SA team that won the WC in 07 without playing a top team was the best is nonsense, they were the best in that series of once off games that they played, New Zealand dominated all comers for THREE years, thats faulty logic. You cant legislate for once of performances that a France or a Munster might produce, where the collective is suddenly better then the opposition.

        • osheaf01

           /  April 25, 2014

          You keep telling yourself that, bubba. Presumably you regard Contepomi as a far superior out-half to Mere Radge. It’s that Natural Talent beating Mental Attitude again, isn’t it? #ToulouseStillBestTeamInEurope

        • osheaf01

           /  April 25, 2014

          PS “just bottled it on the day”.

          Those six words encapsulate precisely why you weren’t the better team.
          Not possessing the Right Stuff.

          Not to mention “From the moment Mal messed up on the kick off I knew it was game over”

          Really? Game over after 10 seconds?? Not if you’re made of the Right Stuff. It’s not as if Leinster were 21-0 or 28-0 down after 5 minutes, is it?
          No proper team loses a match in the first minute, or even in the first half. Sport is replete with comebacks from seemingly impossible situations – Liverpool in 2005, Dublin vs Cork the other weekend – but such comebacks need the right Mental Attitude, without which mere talent is useless.

    • And the liginds weren’t even the dog’s bollox! Three quarters of the pack and both of the half-backs who won the Grand Slam in 2009 were average to a man.

      I sincerely hope this was a good troll, because otherwise you are a gibbering loon…

      • Bobby T

         /  April 24, 2014

        Not a troll at all Thoughtless. I am a Munster fan too. If you honestly think Munster have ever possessed the best 1-15 (or even the best 1-10) in Europe then you are up there with the Leinsterlions of this world. I might have phrased it badly as not ‘the best team’ isn’t really what I meant as much as not ‘the best group of players’. It’s just an opinion though. And yes in 2006 I would have said Biarritz were the best group of players in the competition and Toulouse in 2008 certainly were. Munster win so often by playing cleverly to their own strengths and opposition weaknesses….not by playing superior football. If they win this weekend (and I am quietly/almost overtly confident that they can) it will not be because they are a better side.
        Anyway I hope they do as I have my ticket to the final already……….

        • I see what you mean on the phrasing point. There’s a lot to say to that, none of which I expect comes out of the LL playbook.

          First, I think there’s a tendency to underrate the abilities of individual Munster players in favour of the scrappy underdog narrative. Rog famously articulated that in the week leading up to our win away in Welford Road back in 2003 (and then backed it up). So has Conor Murray in some of his recent interviews. He’s made a point of saying that he toured with the Lions, the cream of British and Irish rugby, and he knows that the players he trains with are quality. I tend to believe him.

          Second, while I don’t personally think Munster ever definitively had the best group of players in Europe, I don’t think it’s particularly far-fetched to suggest we did either. I’d absolutely contend that Munster had the best 1-10 in both winning years, though. 6 out of 8 of Ireland’s Grand Slam winning pack, with the other two being drawn from Quinlan, Leamy, and Foley, a trio with 146 Irish caps between them (acquired during much of Irish rugby’s most successful era). And a three-time Lions out-half that Guy Novés, the coach of the side you reckon had the best players in 2008, repeatedly tried to sign. Strings, in spite of his limitations, was a magnificent player too who could marshal a pack like no other Irish scrum-half and whose distribution was genuinely world-class. Tomás O’Leary should have toured with the Lions but for an injury from which he’s never really recovered. That pack and those half-backs ground teams to death, and that wasn’t the product of wanting it more or some similar nonsense. They were simply better at winning matches than their counterparts, and you can call that playing to their strengths and opposition’s weaknesses, but we’re not talking about some sort of Platonic ideal of rugby here, we’re talking about who’s a better team. Who’s better is decided on the scoreboard, and Munster were in the matches played.

          Third, even if individual players weren’t or aren’t the best in the competition, rugby is a team game where a team can be greater than the sum of its parts. I won’t particularly care that Steffon Armitage is a better individual player than James Coughlan if James Coughlan touches down a winning try this weekend off the back of a destructive scrum or a maul after a brutal and clinical performance where we neutralised their big players. And if that did happen, it wouldn’t mean that Toulon are somehow intrinsically a “better team” who lost to a “smarter team”. Part of being good is being smart, and if you’re not smart enough to win, you’re not better.

          Anyway, enough long-winded guff. I’m pretty sure I’m just trying to convince myself we can win at this stage. Here’s hoping you get to cheer Munster on the last ever Heineken Cup final.

          • I’m with thoughtless on this one. Munster’s 1-10 from the 2006-09 era was pretty much a full deck of first-rate test-class players. O’Connell, Wallace, Flannery, Quinlan, ROG. Mosters all. And McGahan wasn’t dealt a poor hand at all. Indeed, in his first nine months he looked to have taken the team to a new peak, adding newfound backline creativity with the explosive Keith Earls and magisterial Paul Warwick.

            But then it all went tits-up! Let’s face it, they made a fatal error of not reacting appropriately to the loss to Leinster in 2009. Bizarrely, they seemed to view it the same way Leinsterlion views the 2006 semi-final (pull the other one Leinsterlion, Leinster were shown up that day), seeing it as a sort of freak result, that they’d been caught on the hop on the day, but deep down they were better than Leinster and everybody knew it. They were way too slow to react to the fact that the team was moving over the hill together and Leinster weren’t going to go away quietly.

          • Bobby T

             /  April 24, 2014

            Out of interest what would have been the appropriate response to the loss to Leinster in 2009?

          • Well, not losing 30-0 in the RDS for a start. It was interesting to listen to Bernard Jackman’s thoughts on that match. He said the Leinster team were really fired up for that match, because they knew that deep down Munster still didn’t really respect them in spite of the Heineken Cup semi-final and they were determined to show it wasn’t just a one-off.

          • Bobby T

             /  April 25, 2014

            And that would have been achieved by…..?

  7. As a Leinster fan, I’ll be rooting for Munster. I would really love them to pull it off. Their performance, however, will have to be considerably better than in the most recent outings against Glasgow and Connacht. While the assumption, that Penney will pick Damian Varley to start at two, is probably correct, I personally would go with Casey. Varley has too much of the sleveen about him, is forever trying to get away with stuff at rucks and gets caught too often. Last week in Galway he was warned for lying around, preventing the ball coming it out. As he continued doing it, it’s a mystery to me, why he wasn’t binned. Wayne Barnes will not be quite so forgiving, methinks….. Also Varley’s throwing in isn’t great.

  8. Len

     /  April 24, 2014

    I agree with you that a Toulon win is the likely out come but as a Leinster Fan with tickets to both finals I’d really like there to be an Irish team to cheer for. Ended up supporting Cleremont last year but it’s not the same. I’d love to see POC trample Felon Armatage if at all possible. On a side note how gutted must Stuart Lancaster be watching Stefon Armatage putting in massive performances week in week out knowing he can’t pick him for England. From an Irish perspective long may he stay in France.

    • Lop12

       /  April 24, 2014

      Murray kinsella noted in his excellent piece (score.ie) yesterday that

      “L’Équipe are reporting that Stuart Lancaster was in Toulon this week to talk to Steffon and his brother about the possibility of coming back into the international frame, and it would seem foolish to ignore the back row”

  9. Ro

     /  April 24, 2014

    I agree Saracens are not good enough to be in the final but they will probably make it unfortunately. And I really fear for Munster this weekend, dont think they have the manpower to cause another upset. A final with Saracens v Toulon would, for me not be worth watching and is probably a taste of things to come with the carve up of euro rugby. The money men have won and will buy any trophy available. Nine teams (I think, 3 Irish, 3 French, 3 English)) have won the HC, doubt we will see that many win the new thing.

  10. Munstermicko

     /  April 24, 2014

    I can see Clermont swallowing their tongue in Twickers so the lads really need to bring all the Pashun, tears and doggedness they can on Sunday to avoid a Saracens- Toulon final. I just hope the team aren’t too tired from building parish churches and saving lost dogs from wells over the past week.

    The slim outside chance of Sarries beating Toulon/Munster in May and Nigel Wray getting his hands on the last Hcup has me hang sandwich rising in me gullet.

    Have to run now and feed the last O me sheep before I drive de Massey to the coast, cross the Bay of Biscay in a home made canoe fashioned from logs, mountaineer over the Pyrenees and finally hitchhike from lorry to lorry throughout the Côte d’Azur to reach my seat in the Velodrome.

    Will report back

    • The good wishes of all in the remaining three green fields go with you, Munstermicko!!!!!

      • Munstermicko

         /  April 24, 2014

        Don’t ye all worry.

        From here on in its Parish Pashun vs the big monied bullies and Yellow fever.

        We all know ye can’t buy Pashun and ye can always solve yellow fever with a sharp needle in the hole!

  11. Don

     /  April 24, 2014

    I think, once again, you are been FAR too find to Toulon.
    Passionate fans they may have, yes. There is a rugby culture there, they certainly have that going for them. There’s also a huge amount of opportunity for a local lad who loves the game to make his mark on this team. Hohoho.
    There’s no room for slackers in Toulon’s hiring policy? Schalk Brits is hardly a slacker lads.
    But Mourad Boudjellal is the biggest asshole in world rugby, even beating those little self serving swines who brokered this deal.
    I personally hope Munster walk there smug faces into the dirt.
    The score has a good piece on it today, something I find myself agreeing with. To save rugby, we need Munster to beat those assholes senseless.


    • Leinsterlion

       /  April 24, 2014

      Completely agree, Boudjellal is some prick.

      • I enjoy a lot of your outspoken rants but your comment about Leinster being a better team in 06 is ridiculous. A shot Will Green, Brian Blaney, Bryce Williams and Cameron Jowitt were in the starting pack and Guy fucking Easterby was their scrumhalf. You never mentioned that Munster were a better team during 09, navigating past Clermont and hammering formidable Sale and Ospreys(essentially Wales and Marty Holah!) outfits and getting nine Lions selected…but Leinster beat them on the day, by a considerable margin, and that’s why they were worthy champions just like Munster in 06 and 08

    • At least we can all agree on this!

        • Don

           /  April 26, 2014

          Toro Toro and Thoughtless.
          I know all about that. And while I am as far removed from the far right (did you see what I did there?) as humanly possible, the fact remains that it was the peoples choice to choose them. A stupid choice it may be, but it was their choice. So here comes this utter prick, with more money than sense to keep his mouth shut and an absolute God-complex (he has spoken about been like a God) and tells them’ No you are wrong. And any (admittedly minor) economic benefit brought about by my bringing my team here will now be taken away because I DON’T AGREE WITH YOUR CHOICE’.
          I think the party in question got something like 49% in the first round. That’s only half of the town*. What about the other half?
          No, there are too many variables here and politics and sport should be kept apart as much as possible.

          (But there are exceptions: there always are. S.Africa during apartheid, Russia during the last winter Olympics, Dubai for the football world cup which is going to be an utter disaster)

          * This figure MAY be incorrect >.<

          • toro toro

             /  April 26, 2014

            It is necessarily illegitimate to disagree with the outcome of a democratic election? What utter, utter nonsense.

            Of course he disagrees with their choice; he’s an Algerian, and they voted for open racists, who would deport him an everyone like him. And he’s supposed to bring his team along and bestow economic windfalls as though it never happened because blah blah blah sport and politics? Arrant nonsense.

      • Even a stopped clock…

  12. Will

     /  April 24, 2014

    Maybe you’re right. But if they’re still neck and neck by 70 the ratcheted intinsity might work against Toulon and their coach.
    Munster might have a better suited midfield to stop Bastereud than Leinster which is the key.
    Please God Clermont will hammer Nigel Wray, Chris Ashton and all their mates.

    • curates_egg

       /  April 24, 2014

      Don’t see it. Toulon have a tendency to toy with teams and then blow them away in the 3rd quarter. Munster need to go into the second half with a cushion.

  13. hulkinator

     /  April 24, 2014

    Munster can win this. The reason why Munster are written off so easily is because of the Leinster result over there. And shur if Leinster can’t beat Toulon what chance does Munster have?

    Well lets see. For starters Leinster played cr*p rugby that day. MOC got his tactics badly wrong. The players looked off the pace. Leinster butchered some excellent chances. The match also came off the back of the 6 nations where Leinsters players were heavily envolved. Theres only so many times they can go to the well in a short period.

    Munster have some advantages over Leinster. For starters Basteraud won’t be strolling through the Munster midfield as easily. Toulon are hot favourites for this so the pressure is on them. Even though Varley will probably start I’d still fancy Munsters lineout to be better than the shambles lineout Leinster had that day. Munster will also have learned their lesson and will come up with a plan to nullify the influence of Toulon at the breakdown.

    POM will be a massive loss though. He is up their with POC in terms of influence on the side and playing ability. Stander is good but a bit more limited than POM.

  14. Scrumdog

     /  April 24, 2014

    Look for an outstanding game from Stander.he’s a classic blindside flanker who racks up double digit tackle counts as well as having a great nose for ball and whitewash!
    Go Munster!

  15. curates_egg

     /  April 24, 2014

    Two things will be central if Munster are to win:

    (1) Toulon will have to play below their potential. If they don’t, no team in Europe can match them. If they do, and Munster play the breakdown cleverly (only going for contact when they have the numbers to win the ruck), Munster have a chance but…

    (2) Munster will need to start out of the blocks. Toulon have a long track record of cruising through first halves, only to explode and annihilate teams in the second half. Munster will need to take a lead into the second half to half a chance. All this hanging in their nonsense will not cut it against Toulon.

  16. Fergal

     /  April 25, 2014

    A “feeble Toulouse challenge”? But, but, but…Toulouse are the Best Team In Europe (LeinsterLion Infallible Ratings TM), so Munster must be the Even Betterer Team In Europe?

    I sense the general “Shure if Leinster couldn’t win there, what chance do MUNSTER have?” attitude. All I’ll say is never write a good team off…

    Clermont v Munster would be an absolutely amazing final atmosphere-wise.

    • Jojo

       /  April 25, 2014

      I think there is lots of wishful thinking here. Having said that, Munster are the one team who can pull off a miracle

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