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Almost everyone who works in any sort of office job, or probably lots of other environments, will have a story to tell about someone mistakenly hitting the ‘Reply All’ button, or somehow sending the wrong information to the wrong people.

It’s a source of comedy gold, as anyone who’s heard David O’Doherty’s ‘I Sent the Text Message to the Person the Text was About’, or seen the episode of The Office where Brent launches an investigation into who mocked up a compromising picture of him (‘It degrades women’), will attest.

And so it has come to pass that the latest email blunderbusses are the Munster management team, who mistakenly sent a critical evaluation of the entire squad to… the entire squad.

In all likelihood this one will blow over, and it’s important not to make too big a deal of it. But my word, it’s good a bit of an old giggle. Winning rugby matches and fostering squad harmony in a group of 30 or 40 competitive animals is a hard enough business as it is without digging absurd holes for oneself. The point many have made that the players would be used to candid criticism misses one key element: it’s one thing the coaches telling you to, say, improve your passing, but it’s entirely another having the whole squad know the coaches don’t rate your passing. It’s a case of the ‘blue eyed islanders’ problem. Everyone knows that everyone knows etc. that I can’t pass.

The biggest reveal in the whole thing was just how quaint and simple the report sounded. Colour-coding denoting the pecking order of the players! Comments such as ‘sloppy lifestyle’ and ‘on a gravy train’ [allegedly]! Do such remarks really need to be committed to a written document? It all sounds a bit Football Manager, but without the layers of complexity. Isn’t this the digital age where players are GPS-monitored for every minute they train and play?

Jirry: ‘I see that BJ Botha’s heart rate has been up in Zone 5 for the last eight minutes.  He’s cooked. Might be time to bring on Stephen Archer for the last ten.’

Axel: [consults sheet] It says here his scrummaging is average.  Let’s leave Big BJ out there for a bit.

And since when was pecking order of players set in stone by colour-coding?  Aren’t these the days of horses for courses and fostering competition for places?

Jirry: Ok, so with CJ Stander and Robin Copeland at 6 and 8 I reckon we need Sean Dougall at 7 to balance things up a bit.

Axel: [takes out copy of squad report] Yeah, I’m looking at the sheet here and it has Tommy O’Donnell shaded in lime green and Dougall is yellow, so that means O’Donnell’s our first choice. Dougall on the bench. You got the memo, right?

Jirry: I did, but I still think O’Donnell is a bit too like the other fellas. Dougall would give us a bit more in the ruck, and the other lads can do the carries.

Axel: I’m going to have to go ahead and disagree with you there. Didn’t you get a copy of the memo?

Jirry: Yes, I have the memo, I just think…

Axel: I’m going to go right ahead and send you another copy of that memo.



  1. Mary Hinge

     /  September 2, 2014

    Amateur hour at Munster. And these are the guys who’re still dining out on the Glaws team sheet been left in the back of a taxi…………………..

    • Never right

       /  September 2, 2014

      Wasn’t it the line out calls?
      I’m too lazy to Google it…

  2. D6W

     /  September 2, 2014

    Great post. As you say, everybody has a story like this. And as Axel subsequently pointed out, it happened and the players have to get over it. But getting over it is one thing, but nobody ever forgets that it happened.

    Btw, as a side issue, GT and his colleagues at IT have not even hinted at this story. Those who only read the IT exclusively for their rugby news would be wondering what on earth this post is about. This on top of being badly scooped on the “johnnys coming home” story, What is happening over at the IT sports desk?

    • Gerry was on Second Captains yesterday discussing it.

    • I think the Indo is the ‘official’ home of munster, connacht and leinster rugby news now. Could that have an impact on what is or isn’t being published in the times?

      I found the whole story very odd, I read there was a clear the air meeting but I can’t imagine there won’t be lingering problems. I’ve heard it said that the leak might even have been intentional, ie call a player weak and see if bucks up. if he doesn’t he is weak and you don’t want him anyways.

      That’s fine in theory when you’re trying to create a team of baby eaters but in reality not every person can be like that. Some good (even very good) players are indeed mentally weak, or at least fragile. They need to be chided and protected a bit to get the best out of them. That doesn’t make them a bad player or even a player you can do without.

      There’s a good chance we haven’t heard the last of this, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are leaks from a disgruntled player who keeps a chip on their shoulder later on when one of them inevitably moves on because their relationship with the province has been damaged.

      • Lop12

         /  September 2, 2014

        Id agree with a lot of your comment, but I would be most surprised if there are any top class international players who you could describe as “mentally weak”. Perhaps the likes of Michelak etc, but even him he continues to play his game in light of torrential abuse over errors in the past which is not a sign of mental weakness. I would say mental toughness up there as one of the main pre-requisites to make it to the top of the tree in pro rugby.

        • The majority of the Munster squad are not internationals though, and if I were to guess who would have been criticised as mentally weak, it would probably be the fringe players who are unlikely to become internationals.

          However I would say that I think there are probably numerous international players who appear to have shown mental fragility/weakness in the past. For some reason my mind immediately goes towards Australia – Beale, ACC, perhaps QC. After that probably Priestland for instance.

          It would be a great plus if every player could be inherently mentally tough but the reality is they’re just people too and different people require different treatment and have different levels of mental fortitude in different situations.

          • It’s not a question of mental weakness so much as insecurity. DOC’s biog, the ROG documentary, Quinny’s columns – they all reveal that even the top players are plagued by self-doubt and insecurity – even those, like ROG, that would be famed for their ability under pressure. Something like this can’t be good for them.

  3. Phil Tran

     /  September 2, 2014

    You just know that if Axel did send Jerry another copy of the memo in your scenario he’d end up sending it to the other provincial coaching tickets as well.

  4. Munstermicko

     /  September 2, 2014

    I think the IT is trying to distance itself from all the sensationalist stuff its rival has been spouting of late.

    There are lads over on Munsterfans discussing “Pashungate” and some of the posters are claiming the Irish management were furious and that they were also very disapointed with the leaking of Radge’s pupil changing school last week as well by the very same paper.

    I presume the Times are remaining silent on it so that they dont lose standing with the IRFU in future. Gerry wont be able to get his early scope of team selections if he weighed in too hard.

    Worht noting that the Murray in the score seems to have got a look at it so im sure its doing the rounds in some shape or form

    • Lop12

       /  September 2, 2014

      Murray was in the Munster academy himself and has excellent access to the squad for interviews over the last while. I would be most surprised if they didnt feel letting him see it and present his view on it was likely to balance earlier coverage.

  5. I have read quite a few player autibiographys and the one thing that runs through them all is the insecurity of all the players. No matter how good they actually are they all seem very insecure. Doubt this would help many or a ny of them.

    • I think this is a great point, and one easily underestimated. And for all the talk of there being plenty of positives in the assessment, everyone – professional rugby player or otherwise – will dwell on the negatives.

    • D6W

       /  September 2, 2014

      Agreed. Even a player with the mental strength of Sexton can be emotionally influenced about how he is valued and treated (according to his biography).

  6. O'Riordan

     /  September 2, 2014

    This leak needs a name. “Gravygate” seems appropriate.

    • curates_egg

       /  September 2, 2014

      Gravyleaks would be messy. You’d never get that stain out.

  7. Foley challenges Brendan Rogers in the David Brent stakes:
    “I don’t see at is a funny issue, but it’s not as if we’re invading Russia or the Ukraine, or anything to that effect.”

    • seiko

       /  September 3, 2014

      Foley didn’t say that. Garret Fitzgerald did:

      Full quote:

      “They’ve registered the letter and accepted it and they don’t intend to take any further action on it at this point in time,” continued Fitzgerald.

      “For us as an organisation, confidentiality is a very serious thing in this business, a people business. We fully comply with all employment law, so we take confidentiality seriously and I suppose the focus is on us moving forward positively. We have taken all the correct legal and professional steps to handle it correctly.

      “It is a simple, rolling document that is updated from time to time and the information is usually dealt with between the individual and coaching staff. I don’t see at is a funny issue, but it’s not as if we’re invading Russia or the Ukraine, or anything to that effect.”

      Meanwhile, Foley stated that if he had experienced

  8. D6W

     /  September 2, 2014

    “In the modern day, it’s seldom that things don’t make the media. It was contained up to Sunday. Obviously on Saturday, there was someone ringing around the houses trying to get information from the players, which obviously isn’t the way things are done, but you accept that and fight it at a later date.”

    Eh, this may come as a shock, Axel, but that was a Journalist doing their job.

    “Journalism is writing what somebody does not want you to write; everything else is PR” – Randolph Hearst

    • Great quotation. It does come across as a little precious. Has the long-standing love in between Munster rugby and the meeja left them looking a bit mollycoddled?

      • D6W

         /  September 3, 2014

        Wouldn’t say just Munster, it is all the provinces and the Irish team. It seems that Irish media forego writing critical stories in exchange for access, and the IT lead the pack on this (their first mention of “gravygate” in print was the report of the official press conference called by Munster). This does not serve the Irish Rugby public well, and Gerry anouncing the team an hour earlier does not make up for it. How Kidney got an uncritical free ride from Irish media in his last season was particularly frustrating.

        Anyway, if Indo have broken ranks, good for them. And of course, WoC always tells it like it is!.

        • O'Riordan

           /  September 3, 2014

          Maybe now that the Indo are sponsoring Musgrave, sorry, Indo Park, they feel less inclined to pussyfoot around when it comes to stories. “We’re the ones giving YOU money, so we’ll write what we like…”

        • seiko

           /  September 3, 2014

          D6W – can you explain to me how the interests of the public are served by knowing that Munster Rugby made a cock-up of sending an internal email?

          • Seiko – Munster is the 2nd best supported and 2nd most successful Irish province and maybe the 3rd best supported and 3rd most successful provincial/club team in the northern hemisphere, so a large swathe of the public does have an interest in this.

            Add in a good number of players and agents with either an axe to grind or an angle to make, and it was just a question of who’d get this out first. Granted the Independent is having a conniption about not much at all, but somehow in this case the Times’ “Move on, nothing to see here” attitude seems even more laughable.

            P.S. I think your “How is this in the public interest” argument does have its merits, not least because applied rigourously it would reduce the Sunday Independent to greetings’ card size.

          • D6W

             /  September 4, 2014

            Because if the public, in this case Munster fans, are going to be paying money to watch Munster play in Thomond or Musgrave, then they have every right to know about issues that may significantly affect the team’s performance before they hand over hard earned cash.

          • Stephen

             /  September 5, 2014

            Salmson – I agree with your comments re public interest, but I’d point out that Ulster are now the second-best supported Irish province, if we’re using attendances as the marker of that.


            That gap’s probably set to slightly widen in Ulster’s favour this season, too, despite Munster’s upgrades.

      • seiko

         /  September 3, 2014

        ”Great quotation. It does come across as a little precious. Has the long-standing love in between Munster rugby and the meeja left them looking a bit mollycoddled?”

        Did you seriously think that? ROG was writing Letters to the Editor over stuff that was written about him by an Indo staffer a while back!

        • Hairy Naomh Mhuire

           /  September 4, 2014

          To be fair to ROG, being the subject of a scathing rugby ‘critique’ from Kevin Myers would test the patience of a saint!!

        • I’d have thought that would only reinforce the point of individuals being a bit precious in the face of criticism. But thatnks or making our argument for us!

  9. Munstermicko

     /  September 4, 2014

    There are two sections of the report doing the rounds on the D’internet at the minute. Pashunfans have locked the thread dscussing it and Foley is trying to use the issue to play the bitterness and “us aganist the world” cards.

    Coaching staff have the scrumhalves feeding lemons into the front rows mouths after they feed the ball and theyve ordered extra Heaslip straw dummies*, for Copeland to tackle in training.

    I suppose if they have a good season they can use Munstergate as “Enfield gone wrong” type motivational peice.

    Its a shame TG4 are showing the match tommorrow as I’d love to see how RTE and Sky will spin this in the pre match hype. A rout, not just a win, is needed to silence the masses.

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