Perception is Reality

It’s funny how one game can change the perception of a team. Especially when it’s Leinster vs Munster – for all the two provinces successes, they still measure themselves against one another. It’s pretty tough to remember before the two most famous of their clashes, but in both cases, perceptions after the game were diametrically different to those before:

  • 2006: Before the game, Munster were thought of as having lost their best chance to win a HEC when losing an epic semi-final to Wasps in Lansdowne Road. Leinster were coming off a most stunning second half of attacking rugby in Toulouse (an actual fortress back then) and were slight favourites going into a game where it was “how do you stop Leinster’s razzle-dazzle back play?” Post-game, Munster morphed in an unstoppable machine of forward power and passion, and Leinster became the ladyboys
  • 2009: Leinster were still the ladyboys – they’d tightened up up front, but couldn’t score tries and were liable to lose to a Castres or an Embra and not one to put any money on. Munster were double European champions who had just hammered the Hairspray Glacticos in the quarter-finals. The hubris was in overdrive, but then 80 minutes later, Munster had chinks in the armour – now they were an ageing team whose aura was punctured, while Leinster were a force to be reckoned with.

Nobody’s saying this game will prove to be as landscape-shifting as those, but the comprehensive nature of Munster’s victory at least passed an unwanted torch up the N7 for the next few weeks.  On Friday, Leinster had had a scratchy start to the season, but Munster were supposedly bordering on crisis – management’s feelings on some fringe squad players had gone public and it felt like the squad hadn’t quite managed to forget about it. They had lost in Thomond twice, in front of meagre attendances and only managed to beat hapless Eye-talians.

Now? Well, Munster are back to porridge – a pack whose feral intensity cannot be matched, driven on by the personality of Paul O’Connell and led by the general behind the pack – this time not a 10, but a 9; Conor Murray. The hard-working backs chip in, but it’s all about the piano shifters. And CJ Stander?!  What a find.  He looks increasingly like the real deal. And who cares about the early season messing about? Don’t worry about the Ospreys or whatever, we can do it when it matters. We got this one.  Was it ever any different?

It was remarkable how Munster got across the gainline in nearly every phase, cleared out brilliantly, and presented the ball quickly. When the pack deigned to let the backs have the ball, Murray distributed and kicked superbly, putting up contestable box kicks (which Munster invariably eventually won) and showing up the callow positioning of hipster’s choice Mick McGrath. Dinny Hurley had an excellent game, fixing the Leinster centres and making space for Keatley to orchestrate yet more gainline success. They were more disciplined than the four – four! – yellow cards suggests. The first was for cumulative penalties in Leinster’s half, and the fourth in garbage time. Bird-brained pair BJ Botha and Dave Foley conspired to give Leinster a thoroughly undeserved toehold in the game, but predictably they couldn’t take advantage.

And Leinster? Well, Leinster are the ones bordering on crisis now. They weren’t exactly in a fantastic place before the game, but they were so utterly dominated at the breakdown and now have been left with more injuries and selection issues (not of the good sort) in several positions. Jimmy Gopperth, for once not having an armchair ride behind a dominant pack, was abysmal – his passing was all over the place and his kicking aimless and often pointless. The nadir came when he kicked the ball twice – twice! – down the throat of Munster’s outside backs in oceans of space when Leinster were two – two! – men up. Barnesy remarked that Gopperth panicked, and that’s fair – he crumbled under pressure. Matt O’Connor has hoisted up the Gopperth flag, but even he has to reconsider based on that performance – Madigan might a little wilder, but if your pack is going backwards, Gopperth effectively offers you no game-winning options. As Keynes might have put it, when your outside half plays himself off the team, you change your opinion.

At the breakdown, Leinster were blown away – Dom Ryan finished the game as the team’s leading tackler, but had no discernible impact on the game, bar a few Hollywood tackles on Robin Copeland. On paper Leinster looked to have an advantage at the breakdown, with Munster’s backrow stacked with ball carriers, but that was turned on its head. Leinster are really down to the bare bones – Jordi Murphy can’t return quickly enough, and Shane Jennings would also have made a big difference.

And to add to DJ Church, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sean O’Brien, Murphy, Shane Jennings, Luke Fitz Roysh, Dave Kearndashian on the disabled list is Ferg, Tadgh Furlong and Rosser. Ferg had a horrendous-looking leg injury when some big lump fell on him, and both tightheads limped off looking uncomfortable.  Even Joe Schmidt’s Super-Duper All Conquering Leinster wouldn’t have been able to withstand such an injury crisis. And this iteration of Leinster aren’t super-duper or all conquering.

In weeks ahead, what looked like a group of death in the ERCC will now be approached with confidence by Munster (though it’s still pretty horrible), whereas Leinster’s gimme group suddenly appears daunting with a decimated pack and no direction to speak of. Funny how perceptions change innit?

Postscript: for this Ulster fan, the game has to be commended for being pretty watchable – not something that can be said about recent vintages of the fixture. High fives all round!

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73 Comments

  1. Ireland's Answer (allthingsrugby1)

     /  October 6, 2014

    The reality is nobody should really make any judgement until after the first two European games. 7/8 games in and least 3 big games played for both Munster and Leinster. We’ll no then what they are at.

    My worry for Leinster is MOC isn’t the right man for the job based on the last 14 months but the injury list is the worst iv’e ever seen but if I remember correctly between 09-10 Munster had a shed load of serious injuries to Wally, Quinny, Flannery, Leamy, Tomas O Leary, Tipoki that coincided with that great team being well and truly broken up is history repeating its self?

  2. D6W

     /  October 6, 2014

    Congratulations to Munster for stepping up and winning in an old-fashioned Munster display of forward power.

    As for Leinster, our major collective problem has come home to roost. Our defensive line is too slow, so we always end up tackling behind the gainline. Which meant Munster were able to drive up the pitch at will, without actually making line breaks as such. This is something that has started happeneing since MOC took over, and you would not expect it from a ex-Leicester coach.

    And apart from all his other coaching failings, what on earth was he doing with all the changes before the game? If Kearney was injured, why was he on the bench? He certainly looked in fine form when he came on.

    It really seems MOC is out of his depth, and while we don’t know if ‘he has lost the dressing room’, the team don’t seem to play with any spirit these days. I think Leinster branch should cut their loses. Jake White is available.

    • Leinsterlion

       /  October 6, 2014

      White is basically MOC with talent, he is a winner no doubt, but his style of play is is more suited to a team with agricultural ambitions rather than cultured ones, a Chiefs assistant or Graham Henry will do nicely.

      • SportingBench

         /  October 6, 2014

        Jake White has made it clear he is only looking for a top internaltional job and I can’timagine Graham Henry risking his hard won reputation nor being interested in moving round the world for club rugby (as the provinces are classed).

        • Leinsterlion

           /  October 6, 2014

          Henry is a pipe dream, I know, but that is the type of coach we should be looking for, attack based ones.

          • D6W

             /  October 6, 2014

            WHat about Les Kiss as a temporary coach, now that he is no longer needed at Ulster? At least he knows the players and how to set up a good defensive system.

          • Good idea, D6W. I was thinking that meself…

          • It’s unlikely that Nucifora will allow Kiss to head off to Leinster just because they’re struggling a little. The Ulster situation was unprecedented in that they lost their entire upper leadership in the space of weeks without any notice, and needed help figuring out how to proceed. “Halp, we don’t like the results from our coach five weeks into a season after he won us a trophy” doesn’t sound like it would be the same sort of situation.

          • Stephen

             /  October 6, 2014

            D6W – Kiss is coming back to Ulster.

          • Leinsterlion

             /  October 6, 2014

            I think it time to bring in someone from the outside, even if its Kiss on a consultancy role, nothing has changed in a year+ of running the team, an outside voice can only improve things.

          • D6W

             /  October 6, 2014

            Jost anyone but M’OC. And this is not just complaining after losing a few games at the season start. The team have being going badly downhill since he came, and the fact we won Pro12 last season says more about the Pro12 than Lenister. Not to mention we were bailed out in semi by Madigan, a player M’OC does not rate and has disrespected in the media a few times.

          • Lads, it’s pointless to start talking about a new coach. MOC is here for the season at least so you may as well make peace with that and talk about how things can be improved.

            I also find the laying of all ills at MOC’s doorstep to be a bit… easy. We gave out about the meeja doing it with Rob Penney, and this is no more edifying. The injury list is extraordinary, few teams would be able to cope with it.

          • But Penney at least looked like he had an idea of how he wanted to play. Making allowance for injuries Leinster could still put out more firxt XV/XXIII Ireland internationals than Munster.

            MOC’s messing with the team-sheet was as unedifying as his whining about a ref that gave 4 yellows against the opposition. His continued selection of the horribly out-of-form Gopperth and auxliiary flanker Fanning is making a rod for his own back.

            Even the one undoubted coaching achievement of last year – a much improved defence – is evaporating. The defensive alignment for Saturday seemed to be “keep soaking the hits lads, no clean breaks, they’ll have to kick on 6th tackle… Won’t they?”

  3. Leinsterlion

     /  October 6, 2014

    Same shit, different match, the Moyes O’Conner express lurches towards oblivion, flimsy barriers made up of excuses and injured players temporarily blind everyone to the fact that nothing has improved since he has taken over. With Gopperth as conductor in chief on this exposition of shite rugby, things will only get worse before they get better, there will be a nadir, and this game is merely its signpost.
    Dawson needs to act now and with purpose, at the the risk of sounding like a marketing peon, “brand Leinster” is being irreparably damaged by the guff served up by Moyes O’Conner, a team and brand built upon attacking intent, thats become a sad mockery of its former self, watch the crowds fall(maybe even to Thomand park levels). Unlike Munster with their plastic fans (and crap marketing built on lies, selling people a sows ear dressed up as a silk purse), happy to watch shite so long as the trophies roll in, Leinster was built upon the back of good rugby, we could handle a loss if we went out there and gave it a lash, but playing shite and still losing, what is the point?
    Forget about what happened on the weekend, its a systemic problem in Leinster, and that is coaching, Munster didnt beat up, Moyes O’Conner did.

    • osheaf01

       /  October 6, 2014

      Keep sucking hard on those lemons…if you want to go back to “give it a lash” rugby, like in 2006, where you tried to play 7s rugby but had no proper pack whatsoever, good luck with that. You’ll have first half hosings by teams with better packs than Munster’s to look forward to. It took Cheika to fix that, yet you were probably moaning at him in 2009 for not “giving it a lash.”

      Your players beat you, when they turned up disinterested looking, failed to put in a single tackle of note, generate a single turnover or contest properly a single ruck in the first 40. The game was effectively over at 28-9. Blame the coach all you like, but what about your “captain”, Mr Headphones? Perhaps he epitomises your real problem – class (talent) but no real desire? You like to pillory O’Mahony for fake passion and not making tackles; Heaslip doesn’t even pretend to passion, and as for making tackles, the entire Leinster backrow was absent. Yet you’ll be calling for them to be picked en masse for Ireland in a month, given that we’ll need that Leinster “class” to “give it a lash” against the Boks (and lose, if our gameplan is that simplistically idiotic.)
      I’ve said it to you before, in connection with Toulouse, but it bears repeating: talent without attitude is nothing. Leinster, like Toulouse, look to have lost the hunger, so it’s time to change the personnel. Perhaps MOC is a Moyes, but appointing a Van Gaal will only paper over the cracks. To continue the Man U analogy, Heaslip is Rooney; a primadonna living on past performances.

      • Leinsterlion

         /  October 6, 2014

        2006 was, as you point out, a failure due to a lack of a pack, no one is calling for an abandonment of a sturdy pack, there is no excuse for picking someone who cant do the basics of their position right, look at Issac Ross’s career when Un-Zee selectors realised he wasnt actually good at the hard stuff, I’m not calling for a pack of Crofts or POMs. Basics first hit rucks, set piece, defence etc then move on.
        I’d agree with you about Heaslip, our pack lacks carriers and he hasnt put his hand up, the argument is, is this a Heaslip or a MOC problem?
        Cheiks was done by 09, it was a peak of sorts, but not our best rugby, the entire thing imploded in 10, we were one dimensional and beatable, you have to widen and vary your play to have long term success, playing narrow and tight is easy once you get film on a team and learn to stop them.
        You will not beat the Boks by playing a possession forward oriented game, we have learned this the hard way, granted they are not the force of old and their scrum is beatable, but playing like Munster will win you nothing, you beat the Boks by running them ragged and cutting them to ribbons with quick passing and lines.
        Toulouse and Leinster have coaching issues just like Manchester United with Moyes, although, the players are good enough at Toulouse and Leinster unlike United.
        I would agree with you on Heaslip about the Rooney comment (not the primadonna aspect), he has looked like his legs are gone at varying points over the last few years, he hasnt been able to run over, through or around people for a while, he still has brilliant hands and a top class rugby brain, but I think his body may be gone, he looks depowered.

        • Fergal

           /  October 6, 2014

          You probably have both a Heaslip and a MOC problem. Unfortunately, replacing Schmidt was going to be nigh-on impossible, and Heaslip, like every top player, has his shelf life. Most players – ROG, BOD, Rooney, Gerrard – go on for too long.

          I agree playing 10 man rugby won’t beat the Boks; neither will lateral run-it-from-everywhere 7s rugby; we’ll need a competitive pack that can win our own ball and ruck/maul well, and a well-drilled backline with license to try things and a 9-10 executive that know when to kick it, when to pass it and when to run it. If anyone’s capable of coaching that, it’s Schmidt; but I fear, with the loss of the likes of Healy and SOB, that we simply won’t have the player calibre to beat South Africa. I would settle for beating the Wallabies. Most of all, we’ll need that hard-nosed Schmidt winning attitude – it’s that attitude, more than anything, that Munster lost when most of their once-in-a-lifetime Test pack retired between 2009 and 2011.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  October 6, 2014

      “Unlike Munster with their plastic fans (and crap marketing built on lies, selling people a sows ear dressed up as a silk purse), happy to watch shite so long as the trophies roll in, Leinster was built upon the back of good rugby, we could handle a loss if we went out there and gave it a lash, but playing shite and still losing, what is the point?”

      What a load of manure. Leinster have as many, probably more based solely on population, plastic fans as Munster ever did in their heyday. Leinster couldn’t even fill Donnybrook for the big games pre 2008/2009 despite playing some cracking rugby. You can talk about the fans being there for the attacking rugby but let’s be honest if they’re playing horrible rugby and winning the fans will keep coming.

      • munstermicko

         /  October 7, 2014

        Re plastic fans:

        I have an old Munster DVD celebrating the o6 Hcup and and I recall there a section where after McGuirk and Hooky wax lyrcical about the “pashun of munster rugby reaching out” the camera crew go out to a town just outside Dublin(Meath Kildare- Cant remember as haven’t watched it in years as the disk appears to have gone awol moving house) where the whole place is decked in Munster red and interview pubs full of Lunsters in red who spout the usual soundbites about how they don’t identyfiy with leinster rugby etc

        Where are these fans now and who do they support…for now?

        I was frantically going through the house to find this DVD so I could upload the particular section for twitter trolling but alas it seems lost.

        • I don’t think we need to go back over the old Lunsters ground – happily it’s a thing of the past, and I’ve no doubt, Munstermicko, that those eejits have crawled back under a rock somewhere, so ashamed are they of their daft behaviour.

          @Leinsterlion – all teams in the orld have fans of differing levels of commitment. It’s universal. The Munster marketing machine may be cringeworthy at times, but don’t mix the marketing and the reality. The reality is that, like it or not, Munster are a great province with a fine tradition that deserves respect. It’s a tradition that’s different to Leinster, and Ulster and Connacht, and that’s fine. They’ve a different mentality and traditionally, play the game in a certain way. That might not be to everyone’s taste, but it doesn’t make it valueless. So please, leave out the baseless insults.

          • SportingBench

             /  October 7, 2014

            The Lunsters do bring up an interesting point however. There is a lot of talk about Leinstertainment and the ‘Leinster way of playing’ however not that long ago there were considerable sections of the Leinster rugby population choosing to support Munster because they were successful. the existance of Lunsters in the the recent past demonstrates that brand Leinster is not being damaged by the style of play but will be damaged by poorresults. The majority of fans will support a winning team as winning is exciting compared to any amount of entertaining loses. The entertainment factor is just a stick to beat MOC with but not relevant to whether he is the right coach or not.

          • munstermicko

             /  October 7, 2014

            This wasn’t just a few lads in jerseys this was a whole pub packed with them. I worked in an office in 2006 and the client entertainment was all about bringing lads to Munster games.The dubs wanted to go because they were rowing in behind Munsters success and the culchies(who often would only watch an international) saw it as the rugger brand for everyone. You couldn’t give away a ticket to leinster ticket

          • Leinsterlion

             /  October 7, 2014

            “..[b]aseless insults”, hordly, its only a bit of mild banter about the sacrosanct place the munster mythology and glorification of putrid rugby occupies in the Irish rugby sphere. Toland even touched on it last night as all and sundry acclaimed Snackbox’s return to “munster values etc”, by commenting that that style of play will not beat anyone in the long run, Munsters win was a temporary salve for their myriad of problems, the narrative across the board however, is that this is the way forward, it isnt, Pennyball or rather 8 Crusaders super rugby titles was a way forward, Schmidtball is the way forward, reductive rugby is not.

  4. I*ve had it with MO’C, his whinging about the ref after the match – reminiscent of his bad-mouthing Pat Lam’s Connacht for supposed “negativity” after the match in the RDS last year – instead of having the good grace to congratulate Munster on their victory was the final straw. Such behaviour disqualifies him for me as a credible leader of men. The “silly buggers” – to use Tony Ward’s term – re the starting 15 and the appearance or not of Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath only compounds in my mind the incoherent, pig-headed path he has pursued in the outhalf question from day one i.e. giving the best outhalf in the country (as opposed to playing in France) the ****ing runaround. For the rest of the season I think Ian Madigan and Luke McGrath should be our preferred/starting half-back partnership (I say this also with a view to the 6 Nations and the RWC, ‘cos as things stand, we are one injury to Johnny Sexton away from disaster). If MO’C is not prepared to do this, then I think he should be replaced. At this stage I reckon Girvan Dempsey could do a better job.

    • I think when any coach comes out after having a 1-2 man advantage for pretty much the final quarter and gives out about the ref, he’s in bad taste, and looking for an excuse. MOC probably picked up that habit from his time working under Cockerill, but that’s no reason to try and divert attention away from a uniformly poor performance (Reddan, Cronin & Ryan aside).

      The silly buggers thing really confused me, especially the Kearney thing. They said that it was all a “last minute thing”, but there was the logistical piece that Mads togged out in full training kit emblazoned with 15 on it, so there must have been at least enough time/foresight for someone to get extra kits sorted out. The fact that Kearney showed no signs of a back injury when he came on (and looked like a man possessed to boot) somewhat undermines MOC’s reasoning.

      • Apparently even Munster knew on Friday, that the starting 15 selection was a spoof, which kind of makes the whole affair pretty pathetic.

      • D6W

         /  October 6, 2014

        I am utterly confused by it also. It was as if MOC was saying to Munster “Hey, you thought I was going to pick the Ireland/B&I Lions full back, but NO, I ‘ve picked my best OH at FB and put said FB on Bench. So there, fooled ya!”

        • Have to agree that the false line-up was a mistake. It was a psychological backward step and pretty much said to Munster ‘I have very little confidence in this selection so I’ve to try and pretend it’s not going to happen.’

          • SportingBench

             /  October 7, 2014

            Interesting point. Does MOC prehaps have a non-Irish bias so that outside the already established superstars, he simply doesn’t rate Irish developed players? Would explain the Gopperth and Boss selections and bringing in Tuquri and Kirchner ahead of young Irish prospects. It isn’t a terribly uncommon bias for SH rugby people (or even some NH rugby) to have consciously or subconsciously that players from the SH are simply bigger, more skillful and better developed than NH equivalents.

          • Well, we have the same bias with coaches don’t we? 🙂

  5. Vnvobit

     /  October 6, 2014

    Heard MO’C , embarrassingly, had a few things to say about the ref. it wasn’t the ref that lost us the game it was our rather witless response to a ferocious Munster pack who blew us away in the first half.

    Discipline, or lack thereof gave us a lifeline but we even made heavy weather of that.

    We had only one ball carrier, in Cronin, that made any impact but that made it easier for Munster and potentially self defeating for us if it’d caused another injury (not that we need another)

    Munster took their opportunities well and deserved a better winning margin then they got in the end.

    As to our European aspirations, well can’t see any of our group being too worried by us given that lacklustre performance.

  6. Billy

     /  October 6, 2014

    The buck stops with the players. MOC can’t play the game for them. Gopperth has also taken much of the slack but 10s are utterly dependent on the ball they get from their pack and Gopperth got nothing from them. I question the motivation of players like Heaslip who have won so much in their careers but are willing to bring a startling lack of intensity to an important game in front of a big, expectant crowd. Fair play to Munster but a pack full of internationals like Leinster’s shouldn’t be getting rolled at home, no matter who the coach is.

    • col

       /  October 6, 2014

      I’m sorry but there is just no way one can blame gopperths performance on the of ball he got. Leaving past form aside, his decision making on Saturday was just pathetic.

      As I never played professionally I usually reserve strong opinion on coaches as I’m simply not qualified but I just cannot understand how any coach could pick gopperth again after the Toulon and Munster games.

    • curates_egg

       /  October 9, 2014

      Yep, that’s horse manure about Gopperth. I can hardly think of one game he has played well in since January. The blind persistence with him in spite of his total absence of form is one of a number of justifiable indictments of O’Connor. Even if O’Connor simply will not play Madigan there, there are others who could not be as poor as Gopperth has been.

      Yes, the pack was very poor and seems to have regressed in every single facet of the game…but why did we persist with a hapless strategy at the breakdown when it was clear after 15 minutes that it was wrong? That is what a coach is there for: strategy and the adaptation thereof.

  7. On the ball-carriers thing: Is there any reason why Heaslip can’t pick up the slack? I know that he’s probably most at home around rucks these days, but you only have to go back a year to the Amlin knockouts and the Lions and he was having a real go at punching some holes (and being good at it!). Surely if there’s someone (other than Cronin) who can (and should) pick up the slack ball-carrying, it should be Heaslip.

    On a side note, is it infuriating anyone else that refs seem to be uniformly giving one and only one random free kick for a crooked feed per match these days? Barnes & co picked up on it, and I’m certain there’s been other instances where we’re deep into the second half and a scrum half will just get spontaneously pinged. If nothing else it reminds fans how badly the feed is being refereed compared to the first month or two last season.

    • I think Heaslip is carrying a decent amount of ball, no? He’d a quiet enough match on saturday but still popped up with a few decent carries. ESPN scrum says 14 carries for 23m, which is quite a bit.

      http://www.espn.co.uk/guinness-pro12-2014-15/rugby/match/233255.html

      • Blaming MO’C entirely is too easy, you’re right, WoC. Questions have to be asked about Heaslip’s captaincy also. Both in the match against Connacht and against Munster the type of leadership we had come to expect from Leo, BO’D and JS was missing. The video footage from the Leinster dressing-room at half-time with Jamie sitting there silent and looking sorry for himself with an ice-pack on his head told me we were gonners.

      • I guess so about the number of carries Heaslip made, but I remember being at the Amlin semi-final two years ago and Heaslip was absolutely tearing it up (although to be fair Biarritz showed up with optional defense), whereas here he just seemed to truck it up from one out. I’d just expect him to do a little more, or be more dynamic?

        I’d agree with Riocard on his leadership as well. I dunno, Heaslip has never *really* convinced me as a captain. He can blow a lot of hot air during matches, but he never really seems to build a rapport with refs in the way that, say, JdV or Warburton would, and seems a little… whiny? I dunno, he just seems to be better when he can just focus on his game to me. I still think he’s a great player (although, again, he was awfully quiet/ineffective on Saturday), but I wonder if someone else (Reddan?) should take the armband.

        • When Ireland collapsed in a heap against Scotland under his captaincy and he came out looking shell-shocked insisting we had played well .. Gawd.

          Still – the only other candidate is probably Bob. Or Sexton next year.

  8. MOC needs to go, until then leinster are in no mans land and will continue to be mediocre in every aspect.

  9. Andrew097

     /  October 6, 2014

    All the KPIs of a good rugby team have been slipping over the last season. Nothing has been fixed during all this time, so it’s unlikely to be fixed during the MOC era. He either can’t see it or can’t fix it. He has backed himself into a real spot, an out half who has aloss of form and a resever being played everywhere else. Leinsters season is probably over by Oct.

  10. Terribly frustrating game to be at. Leinster intensity was just not there from the get go – hell even the warm up looked routine, no geeing up, no overt physicality; nothing to get the blood up for the players & then they go out and play like tackle bags for 50 mins.

    The ruck and fringe defense was absolutely dreadful – that sort of defending is all about mindset and desire. Players slow to get up, slow to fan across, nobody taking pillar defense seriously. That to me shows a lack of interest/desire, not systemic issues, it’s players not being arsed to do their basic f#@king jobs, match the intensity and not back down.

    If the environment is so bad that players can’t get up for a Munster match then something is seriously wrong.

    I posted a comment last week wondering what O’Connor’s philosophy/approach is. This performance is the answer I feared we’d get. Confusion leading to lack of interest/desire to do the basics and to be physically up for the battle.

    The only mitigating factor is the sheer volume of injuries – you take potentially 7 starting players out of every team, even BNZ, and the cohesion won’t be there. If we constantly messed up set pieces I could understand that but I can’t understand basic fringe defense and constantly soaking tackles.

    And then MOC comes out and blames the ref!!!. If he genuinely had a problem with the ref (and I could understand why with certain things that happened during the game), he should bite his tongue, document his frustrations and send it in to the Pro 12 hierarchy, coming out after the game is unedifying.

  11. And Irish rugby will have really benefited from Madigan playing at f*****g fullback. Thanks Matt. No doubt we’ll hear plenty of ”when has Madigan ever produced it at 10 in the big games?” once the 6Nations and RWC come around, but how is he supposed to ever answer the question and grow into the role of top class outhalf when he’s being marginalised at every f*****g opportunity? For a handy journeyman who’s churning out shite performances each week no less. Ironically enough Gopperth continues to demonstrate all the failings Madigan’s detractors constantly mention. I think injuries are a red herring. Munster had just as many injured but still put in a clear, structured, and intense display, which should be the bare minimum in a big match like this.

    • Hear, effing hear!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Billy

       /  October 6, 2014

      The Madigan at 15 thing looked to me like a little bit of a call from up on high. We know Schmidt is a fan of Madigan at full back having played him there quite a bit in the absence of Kearney. I wouldn’t be surprised if he pulled rank and requested Madigan play 15 for a big match to get an idea of his depth at 15. After all, versatility is quite a plus in a World Cup year. Otherwise I cannot for the life of me see why MOC would decide to play Madigan at 15 for the first time in his tenure and keep a clearly fit Kearney on the bench for a game like this.

      • D6W

         /  October 6, 2014

        I am afraid I don’t buy that. If Schmidt was going to interfere in team selection for such a big game, which I doubt, I think he would have done it earlier in he week to allow team to train in that configuration. And while Madigan is a good fullback, I don’t think he is anywhere close to being Irelands 2nd choice, except in his role as utility cover fom bench.

        I suspect when/if the reasons do come to light, it may well be for non-playing causes IE ill-discipline, talk back maybe.

        • Agree, Ireland’s 2nd choice fullback at this point is either Jones or Payne. The latter is probably going to have the next three weeks to convince people (including me) that his first half against Edinburgh was just rustiness if he wants a crack at 13 in green, but he looked at sharp as ever at full-back when he switched at half time, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens there, and if Doak will sit him down to have a chat about where he can play.

          • D6W

             /  October 6, 2014

            Having watched the last 2 Connacht games, I thought Darragh Leader was fantastic, he would be my choice now for 2nd FB.

          • Stephen

             /  October 6, 2014

            Tran, Payne’s performance at 13 against Edinburgh last Friday was his best performance, at 13, in an Ulster jersey.

            Let’s just let that sink in.

    • I think Mads at 15 was pretty simply a question of needs must. Who else was going to wear the 15 shirt? Leinster have an injury crisis in the back division right now and everyone has to muck in until a few names come back to fitness.

      We want to see Madigan at 10 as much as the next man, but it would hardly have made sense to leave Gopperth on the bench and play… who exactly?… at fullback.

      • Billy

         /  October 6, 2014

        One thing is for sure, Kearney certainly was not injured, otherwise he would not have sat on the bench. You don’t put integral international players on the bench for a Rabo match if they’re injured. There has to be some reason for moving Madigan to full back for the first time in his reign for a match like this.

        Maybe he was looking at it in terms of bench configuration rather than Madigan being the 2nd choice 15. As it stands, of Irelands winger options only Earls, Zebo (both at a push) or Gilroy could slot in 15.

        • connachtexile

           /  October 6, 2014

          Henshaw, Payne and Bowe can all play 15 as well.

      • The changes to the team were public knowledge (and posted on the Leinster fans forum) by lunchtime Friday, hours before Kearney “felt his back in the warm-up” and Foley claims to have known the Leinster selection on Tuesday. Yes Leinster have injury problems, but these do not include and did not include Kearney; that was a MOC “stroke” straight from the Davy Fitz School of Gobshitery.

  12. munstermicko

     /  October 6, 2014

    Saturday was great. The good old days of the hard country folk going up the way to Dubland and showing the ladies whos boss. Trying to find the means to make a gif of O Mahoneys trademark “PASHUN BELLOWING” at the end of the match the sky camera caught.

    It will be interesting to see how the next 2 weeks go. If Leinster don’t brandish enough cans of Raid in the horseshed for when Wasps come to town and come apart in Castres the following week they could well need an “interim coach”.

  13. Simon Farrell (@SFarrell_5)

     /  October 6, 2014

    From a Leinster perspective this was like the bad old days; the aforementioned ’06 horror show and the 18-0 drubbing in ’08 (as one Munster fan put it to me after that one we were “Lucky to get nil and all”). Munster knew how they wanted to play in the first 40 and were ruthless in making sure they did so. Once they started getting easy gainline success around the fringes they kept jamming away at it and got their rewards for it. From a forwards perspective it was a delight to watch! Their backline looked more potent as well, for all the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Hurley and Smith, and they were willing and happy to vary the attack between the two.

    Leinster, by contrast, looked one paced and pedestrian in pretty much every aspect. The ruck and passing accuracy of the Schmidt era is dead and gone. Shovelling shit ball laterally behind the gainline or simply hoofing it away (and following it up with some listless chases). As has been pointed out, if you think someone is slowing your ball down and the ref ain’t doing anything about it then you bloody well do. Would the likes of Hinesy, Thorn or, hell, Eric Miller have put up with that? Leinster look bereft of an attacking identity and the ongoing coaching malaise seems to be seeping into the players. Injuries or no, its no excuse for as meek and supine a performance like Saturday’s.

    • To answer your question, Simon: no, none of the players you mentioned would have put up with that. To paraphrase Leinsterlion, they would have “burst” somebody and thereby gotten the juices flowing.

  14. Can someone clarify the extent to how many people are injured and for how long? I’ve just had a stab at creating ‘the list’. Let me know if it is accurate and/or what should be changed
    Name Injury Time
    1. Richardt Strauss Hamstring Just Back
    2. Noel Reid Ankle Back Soon
    3. Zane Kirchner Hamstring Back Soon
    4. Kevin McLaughlin Knee Back Soon
    5. Jack McGrath Calf short term?
    6. Marty Moore dunno?? short term?
    7. Furlong dunno short term?
    8. Mike Ross Groin Short term
    9. Jennings Hamstring Jan
    10. Cian Healy- Hamstring Feb
    11. Luke Fitz- Groin/Hip Nov
    12. Dave Kearney Knee Nov
    13. Jordi Murphy Shoulder Nov
    14. McFadden Ankle Nov
    15. Sean O’Brien Shoulder March

    • col

       /  October 6, 2014

      Church tore his hamstrig off the bone. That’s the same injury Tommy Walsh got playing down in Sydney and if it’s anywhere near as horrific we won’t see church until the WC warm ups I’d say

  15. Caoimhin

     /  October 6, 2014

    for me there are three main issues
    1. this one have been overlooked some what but the imjury list is have a huge effect on performances. the reality of the situation it is hard to remain competitive when squad players are playing week in week out. Under Schmeidt Leinster were relatively lucky to have a fairly clean bill of health which allowed fringe players to play with senior players which aided their development.

    2. Gopperth. i really dont think he is the up to the standard that leinster need and i think he is left awfully exposed when madigan isnt beside him.

    3. MOC.as stated before on this tread he is not giving the players a game plan to preform in my opinion. last year i can count on one hand the number of good performances by leinster. his saving grace was that the team were not playing well but still winning matches.

  16. First off well done Munster, you played how I’d have liked us to play. This was a joke of a performance. Yes the buck stops with the players but the total lack of cohesion and game plan fall at the feet of the coaching ticket. Also I don’t know what’s changed but we look positively under practiced at the basics. The handling errors are terrible and we look unfit. We have a simply crazy selection policy which makes me think MOC hasn’t a breeze what he’s doing. In the game against Cardiff we lost Karney at half time. So logic would suggest you make the lest number of changes to accommodate his replacement. For me that meant dropping McF back to full back where he’d have been fine against what was a lack luster Cardiff side. Whst did MOC do? He dropped mads back to 15 moved Darcy to 12 and pushed McF to 13 and in so doing (just like Saturday) he robbed us of our best attacking option at the moment.

    The big issues as I see them are:
    Lack of commitment to the breakdown in both attack and defence.
    Leadership or lack there off from either Capt vacant or any other senior player for that matter.
    Lack of ball carrying options with McGrath, Healy, sob all out. Leaving it all to Ruddocck and Cronin is just not an option.
    Lack of any discernible game plan – similar to the latter days of Deckie’s reign with Ireland.
    Inability to maintain our shape in attack or defence.
    A ten who goes side ways more than a bloody crab.

    I don’t expect anything to change short term. I still expect Jimmy G to start against Wasps (mads might get a look in against zebra at the weekend).

    I also don’t buy that mads at 15 was a Joe call. If anything I’d expect him to want Mads to get time at ten given JSex is out injured.

    I expect MOC to follow Jimmy G out of Leinster at the end of what will be our worst season in a long time, unless there are major changes. I the current rate we’ll be lucky to get any European rugby next year.

    • That appalling vista you describe, with all the negative financial knock-on effects it implies, is all the more reason for Mick Dawson to get cracking on finding us a new coach – sooner rather than later!!!

      • Totally agree, however given the conservative nature of Irish rugby bodies I just don’t see there being any change until the end of the season. Does anyone know have coaches been sacked mid season or is that just a football thing?

        • Anonymous_D

           /  October 6, 2014

          The Cardiff coach quit early last season after losing at home to Treviso

  17. RDS Bombanera

     /  October 6, 2014

    If regime change is being discussed….albeit a little to soon, but….
    Leinster forwards got smashed to pieces, breakdown a shambles, scrum beaten up – why is nobody talking about the Leinster forwards coach who walked into the job with no prior coaching experience, no questions asked (then or now, bizarrely)?….

    • Mary Hinge

       /  October 7, 2014

      Exactly Bombanera, but then Leo is a legend!

      • Ligind surely?

      • D6W

         /  October 7, 2014

        Well, Foley, a Munster Ligind has copped a lot of flack, so Leo should not be sacrosant.

        So what about our lineouts? We have one of the tallest men in world rugby so why do we not throw the ball to him most if not all of the time. Done right, there is simply nothing the opposition can do, even if they know it is going to him. If Federer knew he was guaranteed to win a point by hitting to an opponents backhand, he would never hit it to the forehand. And yet we continue to vary and lose lineouts. On Saturday, right in front of where I was sitting, we lost one against the head, with Toner standing at 6 and the ball thrown to no. 4!!!

        • Yossarian

           /  October 8, 2014

          Don’t even know where to start explaining the folly of constantly throwing the ball to one man in the lineout.

  18. Yossarian

     /  October 7, 2014

    I think the result of the weekend has brought a lot of things home for Leinster.Anyone on the fence about MOC or Gopperth must surely see what a lot of people have felt for quite some time.
    I’m not convinced Excel Foley has had his “schmidt moment” and it all starts to click now. Leinster were obliterated by injuries and the sight of the Byrnes(who performed well)Bent at tight head, Dom Ryan,Macken all resembled last years B&I cup side. If there was ever a game the Munster coaching ticket from the height of 2006/2009 rivalry was going to have the team primed for it was this one.
    The biggest worry from an Irish perspective (other than the injuries) has to be the performance of Heaslip and to an extent Ruddock. We need Ruddock to come good this season in the absence of Healy and SOB as a top quality ball carrier(which he looked against Cardiff and Connacht) His non performance somewhat offset by a return to form of TOD
    Heaslip (no matter what some people think of him) is going to be our 8 from here to the World Cup and he looked jaded. Going to Argentina may have been an error in hindsight. His well documented lack of injuries might be taking its toll in terms of lack of freshness.

  19. 61 comments in and nearly all of them on O’Connor and Gopperth! I feel it behooves me to give a token viewpoint on Munster after that.

    A lot of the talk in the build-up to the game was dominated by Keatley’s continued selection and Hanrahan’s continued non-selection. As it transpired, it wasn’t terribly important, such was Munster’s dominance of the collisions for most of the game. Keatley did a very competent job as a second playmaker outside the brilliant Murray, who was Munster’s general on the day. He vindicated his selection in general play, but his kicking from tee still doesn’t inspire this season, and a drastic improvement will be needed because I doubt we’ll be racking up too many 19-point leads for the rest of the season.

    Hanrahan nailed a pressure kick when he came on to put Munster out of reach, which was good to see. He’ll have a chance to show what he can do against Cardiff, but he has a way to go before breaking ahead of Keatley at 10 and there is no immediate prospect of a Keatley-Hanrahan combination. That’s down to an outstanding performance by Denis Hurley at 12, who looks nailed on in that jersey for the moment. He ran excellent lines, including decoy lines; look how he sucked in a defender and made space to allow Jones to get right up to the line toward the start of the second line. He got two very good offloads away, one of which was crucial in the build-up to Cronin’s try. He made a serious impact at the breakdown at times, including one monstrous clear-out which directly enabled Copeland’s try. And he absolutely creased his opposite man with two ever-so-slightly late tackles. It was a vindication of Foley’s decision to convert him to 12 full-time. That said, I’m not sure if he did brilliantly for Fanning’s try, but it would almost have been difficult for Leinster not to score through the backs at that stage with Munster down two men, and that was the only blemish on an otherwise outstanding performance. The prospect of Earls outside him later in the season is something to look forward to.

    The key to the win was, as I say, in the collisions, and all the pack deserve credit for that, but a special mention has to go to Tommy O’Donnell, who showed that his performances away to Quins and Clermont the season before last were not aberrations. I said in the comments section here in the build-up to the game that I expected him to make a prodigious number of tackles, and so he did, while also being very effective ball in hand. There is no back-row in Irish rugby I would prefer to see coming off the bench while my team is fighting a rearguard action. Stander was excellent beside him again, with Copeland putting in a slightly quieter shift. We could potentially see a back-row of Stander-O’Donnell-O’Mahony in the European games, which looks very good and quite balanced to me.

    O’Donnell’s post-game comments were also interesting, insofar as he said Munster identified the weakness in Leinster’s fringe defence and simply went after it over and over. I hope that’s reflective of good on-pitch decision-making, because it was evidently the right game-plan, although in the build-up to Copeland’s try we looked a little too wedded to it; that ball really had to go to Zebo. I certainly hope it doesn’t reflect a reversion to some imagined “traditional Munster rugby”. On the basis of the two games I saw beforehand, the coaching team look keen to ensure that Munster can play a wide game as well, which is good because the likes of Saracens simply won’t have the soft centre Leinster displayed at the weekend.

    The long and short of it is that I’m delighted with the win and performance, and I think we’ll improve from here (with occasional blips thrown in no doubt). Even in the dire results against Edinburgh and Ospreys there were signs that we are moving towards a coherent game plan under Foley and co, and that clarity will, I think, enable the players to harness the improvements made under Penney over the last two years to put it up to the best teams in the Pro12 and in Europe.

    P.S. And there hasn’t been a mention of Munster A’s win in Donnybrook! A Munster selection with a lot of experience maybe stacked the deck in our favour a little, but there are some good young players in that team (I’m thinking of Jack O’Donoghue and Rory Scannell especially) who will benefit from it and will hopefully be pushing for senior appearances sooner rather than later.

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