Just What Was That?

When we heard the news that Conor Murray was going to miss the trip to Globo Gym and their 4G pitch (bet you hadn’t heard Sarries had one, had you? The Irish media don’t dwell on it much), any lingering hopes we had that Munster could eke out a win pretty much disappeared.  On the eve of the game we tweeted that Egg Chaser was predicting a drubbing by Saracens but Palla was going for more of a bloodless coup.  It turned out to be both.

Munster were routed in every facet of play – the scrum, which had creaked under BJ Botha all season, was marched backwards. By Mako Vunipola! The breakdown was a breeze if you were a Saracen – every ruck resulted in nice easy ball, whereas when Munster had possession, poor Duncan Williams, hardly blessed with decisiveness at the best of times, had opposition forwards all over him. The lineout was a fiasco. Munster’s kicking game took no account of the Allianz Park surface. Their big players were not a factor. Munster simply could not get into the game.  Any time they had a platform they made a mistake.  Saracens are a good side, one of four sides (Toulon, Clermont and the Saints being the others) who will not be happy unless they win this competition, but the scale of Munster’s humiliation was frightening to behold. Just how did it come to this?

It was all neatly encapsulated by the two trademark BT Sport-mid-match interviews with coaching staff.  Mick O’Driscoll’s vox-pops sounded just as Saracens were in the process of gaining 30m and setting up the platform that would result in their first try.  It gave the impression of a man fiddling while Rome burns.  At around the 60 minute mark, Saracens’ Paul Gustard was asked to discuss the victory in waiting and tried to convince those watching at home that it wasn’t done yet, but you could tell from his demeanour that he knew the game was won.

It’s been a miserable first half-season for Axel Foley in the job he has worked so hard to get – the brave and the faithful can live with indifferent league form, especially when it comes sweetened with two thumping victories over the arrogant Ladyboys from Dublin, they can live with defeats to sides as good as Clermont and Saracens, but Munster fans are wondering how the team can go out so far off the mental pitch required for a game aptly described by Axel as one with “no tomorrows”. They had a tough pool, no question, but it wasn’t in the script needing a last minute drop goal to beat Sale, or losing their home unbeaten record to French teams, or to lay down so meekly against a team perfectly placed to make Munster bitter. Rob Penney’s teams might have benefitted from kinder draws, but any European exit was with their heads held high, making a higher-quality team sweat buckets before getting over the line.

Penney himself never got an easy ride from the press – the stuttering league performances were seen as evidence he didn’t fit, and the wide-wide games with Donncha O’Callaghan popping up on the wing before Munster had “earned that right” were scoffed at as an alien style imposed on an unwilling team. When Munster did resort to a fruitier forwards-based effort and won, the credit went to the players. When Penney’s contract wasn’t renewed and Axel Foley was given the job, many felt Penney would be glad to be out of there – getting not much credit for dragging a transitional team to successive HEC semi-finals. But no Penney team ever capitulated like Foley’s Munster did at the weekend, and it makes you wonder where the camp is right now – when Paul O’Connell is making elementary errors and Peter O’Mahony is anonymous for 60 minutes, it needs to to be asked why the players aren’t producing.

Is it the personnel? Well, it’s a very similar squad to the one that made last year’s semi-finals – POC might be a year older, but Murray is if anything even better, players like Dave Foley, Duncan Casey and CJ Stander are much improved, and Ian Keatley is having his best season as a professional. The centres are different, but hey, what’s new? It’s more or less the same panel.  Injuries?  Sure, Varley and Sherry are a miss at hooker,. but Casey has played well enough to be a minor cause celebre when he didn’t get picked for Ireland in November.  Keith Earls hasn’t been fit, but he missed a lot of rugby last year, and if anything the backrow options have been enhanced by the return to form of Tommy O’Donnell.

Is it the gameplan? The narrow forwards-based plan is certainly more like (cover your ears) “traditional Munster values”, but then again, so is winning important games in Europe, as is producing the type of clinical control exhibited by Saracens on Saturday. Their most-talented youngster, JJ Hanrahan, has tired of not playing and has flounced off to Northampton – Foley pronounced himself “mystified” then picked Dinny Hurley and left Hanrahan kicking his heels for 76 minutes.

Is there something else? It feels like raking up old muck, but when emailgate happened, most of the punditerati were on the TV and the radio to say it was much ado over nothing and the squad would quickly move on. All except Bernard Jackman that is, who said it would destroy the dynamic in the dressing room and take a very long time and hard work to move past – it’s important and relevant because Jackman was the only pundit asked who actively coaches a proper side – Grenoble, currently sixth in the Top 14, and with a good case to be a better side than Ulster, Munster or Leinster. Maybe the squad just hasn’t move on yet.

Four years ago, the last time Munster failed to make the quarter-finals, the coach had the Week 6 balm of a home game against an average English side – last time Lahn Oirish, this time Sale Sharks – Munster will want to see an angry response to get some mojo back, for what it’s worth. Then the real business gets underway.  McGahan used the ensuing Pro12 campaign to rebuild and made some changes, notably bringing in Conor Murray and James Cawlin for Strings and Leamy, and Munster went on to win the Pro12. It’s imperative that Munster do something similar – though probably more along the lines of expanding the gameplan than bringing in new personnel – and grab this season by the scruff of the neck. No-one wants the defining memory to be the limp capitulation in Allianz Park.

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120 Comments

  1. “It’s been a miserable first half-season for Axel Foley in the job he has worked so hard to get”

    Is it just me or are you paraphrasing one of Brian Cowan’s political obituaries?

  2. Yossarian

     /  January 19, 2015

    It is really hard to see how munster turn this around. for the good of Irish rugby they have to.
    They can’t buy their way out of it with competition from France and the debt star Thomond. They don’t seem to produce young talent(and if they do it leaves!) Zebo would have come out of pretty much any academy system. The guys they produce don’t seem quite rounded enough with deficiencies to their game.
    They kept talking about “going to the well” backs to the wall no tomorrow etc. etc. but that is not a tactical approach to winning a game. Midfield call was badly wrong and they had to play JJ and try get Jones/Zebo/Conway on the ball. The only guys who seemed to make headway through the whole match.
    Is there a higher % of “non Munster” irish players in the team compared to times past? Munster at their best was 12/13 “Munster men” with a sprinkling of southern hemisphere nous.Not faulting the players9who were among better performers) but is it diluted with Conway,Keatley,Jones,CJ,The midfield etc all not being “parish boys”? either way the whole emotional well approach will only take you so far.

    • D6W

       /  January 19, 2015

      Am I reading this correctly? Are you seriously blaming Munsters loss on the Munster players who were not born in Munster by the grace of god? But you also say that the emotional approach will only take you so far, which contradicts above, and is correct.

      • I find the “Zebo would have come out of any academy system” thing a bit bizarre to be honest. If that’s the case, it could be applied to any number of players across the provinces.

        • Donal

           /  January 19, 2015

          I think what he is saying is that Zebo has a natural athleticism that would have excelled in any academy structure i.e. it didn’t need much nourishing. Every province has players like this, natural athletes that just shine through regardless of the setup.

          It is the other players, those who require development, that Munster aren’t bringing through to the same level as the other provinces. It would be hard to argue this point, the Munster production line is under performing.

        • Yossarian

           /  January 19, 2015

          Kate Top players will emerge regardless of environment and does apply to any number of Irish internationals.(guys so good would make it with minimal coaching/environmental help. your Luke fitzgeralds,henshaws,Hendersons)

          D6W i’m not blaming Munsters loss on where their players come from at all. I’m saying at their best Munster had the “parish” vibe with minimal outside influence and could count on an emotional performance to compensate for deficiencies. I’m saying that is an outdated model and you need a proper game plan.
          Just wondering would the diminishing % have a knock on effect on your Caseys/Foleys/Cronins who in times past may have performed better in a game like Saturday in that kind of environment. trying to fathom how munster went out in such a style. it was a musing rather than a point.

          • Amiga500

             /  January 19, 2015

            “Top players will emerge regardless of environment”

            Complete and utter tripe. The large imbalance in the number of professional players coming from elite schools and those that don’t prove that.

          • Yossarian

             /  January 19, 2015

            and the ones that make who aren’t from top schools?Tadhg furlong?Henshaw? Of course coaching plays a massive roll for the development of players, but there will be exceptional talents who would come through in any system.

          • D6W

             /  January 19, 2015

            OK, I get you. I would say this whole “parish” thing was simply the vehicle that the management and senior players successfully used to engender the team ethos that gives the the extra % in performance. Morinho does same thing at Chelsea, using the “media and football establishment hate us” as the vehicle.

            If Munster do lack that special team ethos, I would say it is not that they are not all from the “parishes”, but that Foley and the senior players have somehow not inspired that extra something, no matter what it is.

          • Mike

             /  January 19, 2015

            That’s not right. There are more players lost to bad coaching structures and bad attitudes than make it.
            I’d say for every Zebo there are another 5 who didn’t make it, whether that’s because they played football instead, preferred the booze, got injured or whatever.

          • Amiga500

             /  January 19, 2015

            @Yossarian.

            Divide the number of professional players from elite schools by the number of people going to elite schools.

            Then do the same for the number of professional players from non elite schools over the number of people going to non elite schools.

            Then you can amend

            “Top players will emerge regardless of environment”

            to

            “Top players can emerge regardless of environment”

          • Lop12

             /  January 19, 2015

            @ Amiga500- you then need to make a significant management adjustment for those parachuted into elite schools post junior cert having shown a significnat degree of natural talent elsewhere

    • Kelly Peters

       /  January 19, 2015

      A huge season behind Munster “not producing” young talent is the demographics of modern Ireland. Right off the bat they’ve half the total population compared to both Leinster and Ulster. But I’m sure if you broke it down the gap would widen hugely if broken down into the 18-35 bracket. As someone who fits that demographic I’m speaking from my own experience as someone who was a young rugby player living in Munster and that of my peers. The simple fact is their is a huge population drain from Munster when it comes to this age group and it’s even bigger when it comes young professionals. The direct impact on Munster isn’t huge but the trickle down effect is. Good domestic players who used to go to Shannon, Garryowen and Cork Con are now ending up at Clontarf, Lansdowne and so on. Instead of hanging around in Munster they’re moving up to Dublin for better job and a higher standard of rugby. This means those players aren’t around to coach the younger players and so on. The player drain also means weakened competition for places at the clubs which doesn’t push players to reach their peaks. And the lack of competitiveness means players can also coast when they do start. Poor results also mean less money coming in and that also affecs youth coaching and so on. Munster has always really relied hugely on the club game to fill their ranks and that’s simply not there anymore.

      Throw in the shambolic state of Munster schools rugby compared to both Leinster and Ulster and the continued strength of both Hurling and Fooball in Munster and you can see that their at a disadvantage. They need a massive push when it comes to youth recruitment, in conjunction with schools and colleges but I don’t see any signs of that.

  3. Honestly I questioned the decision to make o’mahony Munster captain. Far too many of my fellow Munster supporters suffer from red goggles where he’s involved so he never gets any real criticism. The problem Munster has had this season is one that has happened time and again over the years regardless of the coaches…. The “name” players get selected regardless of form, o’mahony is a case in point his form has been unreliable all season, players should be showing consistency. I’d love to see moneyball style stats on the Munster players this season, I suspect there could be some surprising trends in how certain players perform when certain others are on the pitch.

    • hulkinator

       /  January 19, 2015

      Of all players to have a go at, POM is a bad choice. He has been very consistent this season and one of Munsters best performers.

      • Bill H

         /  January 19, 2015

        Strongly disagree, and I away for Leinsterlion to weigh in here, but he has been and frankly is poor. He was useless for 60 minutes then as per usual gets in needless argie bargie to prove he is still there and then people say how he brought the pashun. He should be leading from the front with big carries, tackles or turnovers, none of which he produced on Saturday or has rarely produced all season!

        • hulkinator

           /  January 19, 2015

          Well that’s your opinion which i think is nonsence. No offence. If you watched the match he was a thorn in the Saracens side, slowing their ball down constantly which helped to stop them getting the bonus point. That doesn’t show up on the official stats that you judge players from.

          People have short memories! If anything POCs form this season has been a worry. Botha looks past it, Foley and Cronin just back from injuries, Casey not matching his early season form, Stander going off injured and Duncan Williams was Murrays replacement. So pointing the finger at Munsters best player looks like you have it in for him personally.

          • Yossarian

             /  January 19, 2015

            POC got called into an uncomfortable role of ball carrying once Stander went off and got called into a 9 role when Williams got sucked in. He should be better for Ireland when he is given a more suited job under Joe of Lineout operator/clear out rucks/tackle machine.

          • Jojo

             /  January 19, 2015

            He’s rubbish
            Pretty much said so himself in the interviews

  4. Rook

     /  January 19, 2015

    I was giving Munster a shot until I heard of the Murray injury too but in the end it would not have made any difference. They were out-muscled, out-fielded (By Chris Ashton!) and generally came off the worse in every facet of the game. The Vunipola brothers looked like SCT stars on a J’s pitch. When Stander went off you knew the goose was cooked as O’Connell and O’Mahoney were alternatively high error or anonymous

    If JJ had any critics for moving this will surely silence them. Your most likely game changer is given 6 minutes while you are down by 20 at half time. Baffling. A switch of both centres at half time for JJ and Earls might have made things interesting.

    The demolishing the Pro12 sides almost universally took at scrum time this season is hugely worrying.Non international props for French and English sides are hammering the best of what Ireland/Scotland/Wales/Italy can produce. Is it coaching? Whatever the reason it is a big part why only one (or none) of the Pro12 will get to the last 8.

    • Yossarian

       /  January 19, 2015

      Standard of Pro 12 scrumaging is alarming. We could have a 6 nations with England/France milking penalties at scrum time from the rest.

      • Connacht would have had yesterday’s game largely killed off at half time if their scrum wasn’t such a disaster. A masterclass from Exeter on how to build on a solid set-piece. Yes there was some questionable refereeing but the Exeter scrum was vastly superior.

        • Stop! Stop! Back to Munster’s shortcomings please! Connacht are starting to default back to snatching defeat from the mouth of victory again. (Of course you’re right about our scrummaging yesterday. Stuff of nightmares).

          • Ir was killing me! Credit to Exeter & all that but goddamit they had that.

            But yes, Munster were roundly awful & it was one of my more painful sporting experiences sitting through that. I was like a bear with a sore head in the office on Friday evening (I’m a super fun colleague like that) because I thought it was all going to go tits up but by god that was awful & the scoreline flattered us if anything.

  5. Cian

     /  January 19, 2015

    In response to “just what was that?”, the simplest answer is that it was Munster’s front five getting absolutely smashed, and Munster not having the exceptional talent in the half backs and centres that would be necessary to circumvent this glaring problem.

    Our back row were, I thought, not actually that bad, bar DOC2 who failed to get into the game (but he hasn’t had much rugby in fairness). Cronin, Casey, BJ, POC, and Foley were way, way, way below the required level.

    One comment I’d make is that Munster of the 00s, when they had a great pack, seemed to be very good at covering up significant weaknesses in their team (and not just the outside backs, but particular deficiencies of players in many positions). Now it seems that Munster, more often than not, have their weaknesses held up to the harshest possible light and so regularly fail to play to their potential (even if that potential isn’t as high as it once was).

    Has anyone else had the same impression, and if so, what do ye think it stems from? Pack weaknesses being harder to mask than those from 11-15? Improved analysis of weak points by opposition coaching teams? Poorer coaching from Munster?

    • When Munster won 2 HECs in 3 years, they regularly provided the entire starting pack for Ireland and 3 of the 4 forward subs. Now they have 2 genuine international stars (POC and POM), and a bunch of young lads with potential. I doubt it’s more complex than that. Maybe Penney and Gahan were better coaches who managed to hide weaknesses, and Foley isn’t up to that standard, or maybe this was coming regardless of who was in charge.

      • Whatever about McGahan, although he did bring young talent through to his credit, I think Penney is a quality coach who was treated incredibly poorly & the rewards we’re reaping from that bit of business is part (not all) of the issue.

        • seiko

           /  January 19, 2015

          Rob Penney is a qualify coach, but as he would say himself, you need the ‘cattle’. Penney’s Shining Arcs haven’t won a game this season and are bottom of their league in Japan (7 games in).

          Can I make a few factual corrections please! Rob Penney was offered a contract by Munster. He choose to go to Japan instead (and on this evidence, it wasn’t for a chance to win silverwear there – his decision).

          No. 2 – Keith Earls was available to Penney last season. He played 18 games for Munster (including 8 Heineken Cup games). Tommy O’Donnell had great form last season. Just after Joe Schmidt’s mishandling of him in the 6Ns, he seemed to lose confidence which thankfully he has now got back.

          • He was offered a new contract on lesser terms (i.e. half the length of his previous one), if you want to be pedantic about it (and that you’ve brought this old chestnut suggests you do).

            In the real world that’d be a fairly strong hint that it’s time to get on yer bike, especially if there’s better remunerated longer-term employment available. I fail to see how coaching jobs are any different.

          • D6W

             /  January 19, 2015

            Not sure that you can accuse Schmidt of mis-handling O’Donnell, he simply preferred Henry as the starter, and there was a lot of competition in the back row. If anything, it was a wakeup call that may be contributing to his current run of form. Same happened with Zebo.

          • seiko

             /  January 19, 2015

            D6W – I did say it was another conspiracy theory that Penney wasn’t getting a better contract offer because of his very public criticism of Schmidt – just as valid as the theory that the Munster legends wanted Penney out (and that dovetales in with Keith Wood’s criticism of Penney as he was on the interview panel that appointed Schmidt).

            The Ireland management publicly criticised TOD’s defence (despite being on the pitch for about 10 minutes and making about 8 tackles, missing none).

            I think Zebo has gone backwards as a player since Joe got his hands on him.

          • Mate, I don’t know see where Joe Schmidt has anything to do with Munster’ poor performance yesterday and he certainly didn’t mishandle any of the players regarding Ireland. I’ve noticed that you seem to try and crowbar a criticism Of Schmidt into any post however unrelated it is to the post, hints of a trollism to my mind.

      • D6W

         /  January 19, 2015

        Considering how far Munster went the two last seasons with mostly the same group of players, one has to wonder how things would have turned out had Penny been allowed one more year to bring his project to fruition. Maybe Foley might have benefitted from one more year under an experienced coach, and being handed a slightly more experienced team.

        EIther way, it is possible that Foley can use this defeat to harden the team up mentally for the future. Most are still yong enough to have a few more tilts at the title.

        • Hi Seiko, my understanding is Penney was offered a one year contract so understandably decided to go elsewhere, which is a pretty poor return for two semi-finals in two years. Also, the poor treatment I was referring to was also seen in the fans & the media, not just contractually.

          • seiko

             /  January 19, 2015

            Kate, My understanding is that he was offered a 3 year contract in Japan at double what Munster were offering (which was closer to home and for 6 months of the year). IRFU/Munster could/would not match that.

            Rob Penney would have attracted a lot of interest as a coach so the fact that he ended up in Japan coaching a bottom of the league team suggests that money and length of contract were very much his top priorities (and that is understandable).

            What is really annoying is this constant spinning by the media that Munster wanted to off-load Penney to give Foley the job, conveniently forgetting that Munster gave Penney the job in preference to Foley fairly recently. They also seem to conviently forget that Foley was the forwards coach so he contributed much to Penney’s coaching success with Munster.

            I might add that another conspiracy theory doing the rounds was that Joe Schmidt wanted him out (as he was a bit too outspoken and defensive of Munster players and how Joe dealt with them (i.e., comments about Schmidt’s chopping down tall poppy syndrome with regard to Zebo).

        • Penny was offered one more year, that’s why he left; because it was a one year offer rather than two.

          • seiko

             /  January 19, 2015

            salmsonconnacht: ”He was offered a new contract on lesser terms (i.e. half the length of his previous one),”

            He was initially offered a 2 year contract with an option for a 3rd year – a similar contract to Mark Anscombe in Ulster and Joe Schmidt when he was in Leinster (who signed one year contract extensions).

            http://www.rte.ie/sport/rugby/irish/2012/1005/340449-schmidt-signs-leinster-contract-extension/

            Seems to be a bit of a pattern with Provincial coaches contracts – offered 2 years with an option on a 3rd.

      • Cian

         /  January 19, 2015

        I agree with you there salmson, but it’s not quite what I was getting at: I really don’t expect this group of Munster players to be winning Heineken Cups. But I would expect them to give a far better account of themselves than they did against Sale away, Sarries away, and Clermont at home. It just seemed like they (or the opposition) made the absolute most of their weaknesses on all these occasions.

        On the whole tired Penney v. Foley thing – I don’t think they’re all that different in terms of the results they’ve achieved so far. The group this year was immeasurably harder than in the last couple of H Cups (partly due to some shocking losses under Penney’s watch in the Pro12). The main difference in terms of outcome appears to be a failure to get up and perform to their utmost on the big days.

        However, like Kate I feel that Munster may have misstepped in allowing Penney to leave. This is because he got slightly better performances out of a very similar squad while attempting to overhaul the playing style in a manner that would facilitate future competitiveness. If Axel came in and said “right, lads, lets get back to what we’re good at” shouldn’t that mean the lads would be a bit… better at it?

  6. Bill H

     /  January 19, 2015

    ‘the arrogant Ladyboys from Dublin’

    Still going with this are we???

    For arrogance sake….how many more European cups before we are no longer Ladyboys???

  7. Bueller

     /  January 19, 2015

    Further to your article last week do you have any insight to offer up on the inane ‘gameplan’?

    • To be honest it’s almost impossible to infer because any time Munster got their hands on the ball they coughed it up through some error or other. They hardly got through any phases at all.

      The only discernible trend seemed to be Duncan Williams kicking to the back field a lot. It didn’t really work out for them. Were they overcooked contestables?

      • Bueller

         /  January 20, 2015

        Keatley was doing the same, constantly kicking to Ashton’s corner. No matter where we were on the field they kicked away what little possession we had. In the first 10 mins Williams and Keatley both kicked away possession just outside Saracens 22- was infuriating to watch. I have no idea what the plan was but if the master strategy was to kick all possesion at Ashton and Goode, 2 serious internationals, then you’d have to question whoever is making these calls….presumably Axel.
        Keatley had a nice kick at one point that in fairness was unlucky to bounce dead – but as someone here pointed out in the comments last week that happens all the time at the Allianz. Ashton let it hop up in front of him about 15 metres out and left it just roll over the dead ball, when on any other pitch I am sure he would have gatherred and returned. Obviously it was unlucky for Keatley but if some random punter on a blog can predict that then surely the Munster back-room analysis is not up to scratch!

        • Letthelionroar

           /  January 20, 2015

          No such thing as a random punter on WOC, everyone on it seems to be an expert!

          • D6W

             /  January 20, 2015

            My irony detectors are twitching!

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 20, 2015

            That would be sarcasm, rather than irony.
            e.g. Your mastery of such complicated concepts is admirable.

          • D6W

             /  January 20, 2015

            The real irony is the level of comments in reply to LettheLionRoar’s nod to contributors expertise!

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 21, 2015

            Hah! True that.

        • Kelly Peters

           /  January 20, 2015

          @LPO Good to see your lessons on humour aren’t being saved solely for us Munster folk.

  8. Hard to see what Munster were trying to achieve yesterday. Seemed to be another largely narrow gameplan without the players to do it. Awful really, not much else to say.

  9. L.P.O.

     /  January 19, 2015

    Strange beast, Munster. Their rather consistent competitiveness in the European Cup culminated with 2 titles and a period of dominance. That was build upon ‘de tredishonel valoos’ and ‘de proidje ind de prejudice’, and all that bollox, but when they hit that wall, and let’s face it, they haven’t looked close to winning a third star (so best wear none!), I thought it was generally accepted that ye olde playbook, all one short paragraph of it, would not be enough to get them past the better teams in Europe. So you get them slowly realising that fact, and bringing in a bloke to try and add another string to their bow… and then they sit through the transitional period where they experimented with this new-fangled ‘passing’ lark and didn’t take to it immediately… though Donners on the wing showed much enthusiasm, as you say… and just as it’s starting to work a little bit they bin the coach who had done a very decent job and promote the talisman of their ‘valoos’ to try and revert them back to playing the way that didn’t work because it was out-dated 5 years ago.

    • Donal

       /  January 19, 2015

      They haven’t looked close to winning a 3rd star despite reaching the semi’s last year and nearly overturning an excellent Cleremont side?

      • L.P.O.

         /  January 20, 2015

        How does almost beating a team that has itself failed drastically to win the cup count as close? Edinburgh reached a semi a few years back. By your logic they also looked like winning the cup, I suppose?

        • Kelly Peters

           /  January 20, 2015

          Come on now LPO that’s hardly comparing like for like. Two totally different beasts. While I agree that they never looked like winning a third Heineken Cup (not buying into that star nonsense, i’ll leave that to the ladyboys), they did come pretty close. They were in with a shout against both Clermont and Toulon and had they won I’ve have backed them in both finals, particularly in what would’ve been a home final in 2013.

          • D6W

             /  January 20, 2015

            Really? Is now the time that Munster fans want to rehash that old “Ladyboy” sneer?

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 20, 2015

            @D6W In fairness mate the ladyboy comment was in jest. No need for Leinster fans to get their knickers in a twist everytime someone says it.

            That said I never did like the star thing and was raging when Munster adopted it this year. Always thought we should let football keep that trend. Now we’ve GAA teams giving out All Ireland.

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 20, 2015

            You see, herein lies the problem. WoC make a point you clearly miss about Munster’s massive inferiority complex by using your ‘bisht schleg’ which you stole from a Neil Francis rant, and BAM, you’re all in here repeating it like you’ve just come up a most biting witticism that would make Oscar Wilde stand and applaud. Fact is, the above shows typically Munster have no sense of humour and zero imagination… a little more of the latter and you might still be competitive in Europe. Don’t worry, anyway… if global warming continues and the polar ice caps melt, Munster-native players will have a significant advantage across the flooded grounds of the continent in the Champions of Champs Water-rugby Cup. So you just tell anyone making fun of your webbed feet that, and go outside and spray all the aerosols you can find until it happens.

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 20, 2015

            @LPO When you say Munster have no sense of humour are you referring to them as a team, fanbase or dare I say it the whole province? You mock me referring to Leinster as ladyboys by accusing me of churning up tired cliches (there is none tireder but clearly it still has the desired effect), yet your original post is nothing more than a series of similarly tired cliches strung together to form an highly lacklustre arguement that contains little if any substance. What is it about my use of cliche that has drawn such scorn and contempt while your cliches clearly had you chucking away as you typed them? As I Munster man I’ve been informed I lack humour and imagination so maybe an “enlightened” individual such as yourself can fill in the gaps in my education.

            As far your whole spiel about global warming I simply haven’t a clue.

        • L.P.O.

           /  January 21, 2015

          Tell me, was the ‘desired effect’ to make sure everyone knows you’re a bit of a thicko? Because if it was: mission accomplished! Not that you needed to bring further attention to your ‘gaps in education’ by bringing it up, as your general illiteracy and poor argumentation on this page had that covered even before you made a fool of yourself above.

          So I struck gold on the webbed toes, clearly, if you consider it an oft repeated fact which is common knowledge? Classic… was just firing a shot in the dark based on your centuries of incestuous reproduction, but nice to have it confirmed! Good man.

          Glad we cleared that up. Take it easy.

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 21, 2015

            Once again your myopic take on all things is very humorous. The fact you went on a such a rant over one silly comment in response to the litany of jibes you made at the expense of Munster show’s your happy to dish it out but can’t take it in reply. You are clearly judge, jury and executioner when it comes to all things whiff of cordite as now not only have you slammed my sense of humour and imagination but your now passing judgement on my literacy and the points I’ve raised.

            As for the webbed toes thing I;m still in the dark. You clearly think you’ve made some hilarious point that’s wound me up. Not the case at all my friend. I simply have no idea at all what you are trying to say or he joke you are trying to make.

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 21, 2015

            Extra, extra, illiterate man with low IQ and no sense of humour misses joke. Stop press!!! This story could run and run. Added bonus… we can use it to fill all that space we’d set aside for covering Munster’s European campaign! Woohoo!!!

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 21, 2015

            What’s next for L.P.O? It keeps geting funnier and funnier. So far I’m a webbed footed illiterate inbred thicko from Munster with no sense of humour, zero imagination and a low IQ. It’s amazing how one silly jibe about the “ladyboys” can incite such a reaction from a keyboard warrior such as yourself.

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 21, 2015

            Pretty much sums you up. Good for you choosing not to deny the obvious, though. Your moronic attempt at wit only highlighted your stupidity, and the fact that you’d hilariously missed the point being made in the article, as well as everything since, branding you an object of derision henceforth. The ‘desired effect’ failed, therefore, unless it was to qualify yourself for the circus. May I recommend the freak trailer? Clowns can sometimes be quite bright. Not sure about the keyboard warrior punt, though, as I don’t recall offering you out for a fight, so no need to get your flippers in a flap. My advice: save them and cash in somewhere where your genetic defect is unusual (which will involve leaving Munster, obviously).

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 21, 2015

            It’s good to see that I’m such an open book that such a broad characterisation can be made off the back of one word in a single comment on a single blog post. There is no point denying what you say though as my first attempt at reasoned discussion was met with even greater derision. I quickly realised, as the great George Carlin so aptly pointed out, “there is no point arguing with a fool, they’ll only drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”.

            As for the keyboard warrior jibe that clearly went over your head as the last thing a keyboard warrior would do is call someone out for a fight. They prefer to sit behind their computers, use anonymous names (say L.P.O) and hurl insults at all comers.

            And as regards leaving Munster, I did that years ago. My incestous (your words) parents from Mount Merrion sent me back here years ago to be educated and live among the civilised folk in Dublin (D4 no less). Clearly my 12 years spent as a youth with the webbed feet thickos down in Munster rendered me irredeemable as my 20 years here have clearly not had the desired result.

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 23, 2015

            Shite, clearly not indeed… you went to a posh school in Dublin 4, and yet you still add random apostrophes all over the shop for no apparent reason? Which school allowed you out into society like that, because you should sue, mate. That’s shameful.

            Never mind missing the original irony in the article, you’ve even misunderstood ‘keyboard warrior’, and then claim everyone else has it wrong, as usual. That would be somebody acting tough behind anonymity, so it’s exactly the person who offers you out in a forum with no intention of actually fighting you. So far I’m just pointing out your idiocy and mocking your complexes, and I’m hardly anonymous. Oh dear. You fail on so many levels, I have lost count. Plus, it would be foolish to challenge you to a fight… you’d probably make the setting a duck pond to gain an untold advantage.

            Seriously, not to be rude, but you have a tiny brain which is making you look foolish in public. You can take the inbred, deficient chromosomes out of Munster, but you can’t take the Munster out of the inbred, deficient chromosomes, I suppose. Sad for you. 😦

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 23, 2015

            And still he comes!! I truly what must be going on in your life that you feel the need to continue this verbal assault. I hope I’m giving you a modicum of relief from your problems. I didn’t realise my use of random apostrophes was so offensive. Spelling and grammar were never my strong suit, especially when hurriedly typing up reply’s on WoC.

            What irony did I miss in the original article? I ask because in this entire thread of comments I’ve never once mentioned anything raised in the article. Also I never said “everyone else” was wrong when it comes to the keyboard warrior thing. I never even said you were wrong. In fact your definition is correct but so is mine. But my problem is you keep speaking about we and how I’m making a fool of myself in public as if anyone else cares. It’s just you and me mate. No one else is looking. As for mocking my complexes you’ve yet to really hit on any. I do have my fair share but you’ve totally missed the mark so far. Keep slinging mud and eventually something will stick.

            Keep coming though if you feel the need. I’ve a thick skin so can take it. I’ll let you know when you hit a nerve.

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 24, 2015

            Thick would indeed be one of the adjectives that spring to mind.

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 24, 2015

            Rehashing insults now? I’m disappointed that you’d no more original insults. I guess ever well must run dry eventually

          • L.P.O.

             /  January 26, 2015

            Hey, you described yourself as thick in that previous post. Just reconfirming that is indeed how the world sees you.

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 26, 2015

            I never described myself as thick mate. But hey it wouldn’t be the first time you’ve falsely attributed a comment to me in the course of this exchange. BTW congrats on being appointed as spokesman for the world.

  10. Lop12

     /  January 19, 2015

    A lot of the success Penney achieved in europe in his two seasons he was playing with a far better deck to be fair to Foley.

    Last season he had a fully fit Earls, Downey and Laulala, Murray, Kilcoyne, Varley & Coughlan all started the semi final, all of whom would have started at the weekend if available ahead of current incumbents. Previous season throw ROG, Donnacha Ryan, Du Preez, Sherry into the mix also. Thats 11 players who would most definitely have made the 22 at the weekend that Foley did not have access to.

    Notwithstanding that it was a woeful performance and gameplan and handling were a million miles off the required standard in reality. Scrum got mangeld and lineout didnt function like it can do. Serious lack of depth and quality in the squad which Saracens laid bare. Foley appears to be taking the brunt of the blame, and I guess as head coach it comes with the territory and he cant have too many complaints. He is probably the best “coach” technically of the coaching group but is that the primary responsbility when you are the head man? Does he have the personality to be a head coach, I wouldnt be so sure about that.

    All in all thoroughly depressing for a Munster fan and some serious rebuilding to be done, to be measured in years rather than months.

    • Not convinced that Penney had much greater resources available to him. Laulala certainly had a bit of something about him, but he never really seemed to be on the same page as his team-mates. A fully fit Earls would enhance any team but there’s not a whole lot between Hurley and Downing, and James Coughlan has been replaced by Robin Copeland. Throw in a rejuvenated Tommy O’Donnell, much improved Keatley, Casey’s emergence and CJ Stander who looked a world-beater in the early rounds but has definitely gone off the boil a bit recently, and I don’t think the gap in raw talent available is that large.

      • Lop12

         /  January 19, 2015

        Downey was good enough to start a HEC final for a more than decent Northmpton side; Hurley has played less than 20 games at 12, he is a converted FB. No comparison for me TBH. Copeland was not available at the weekend, nor was Donnacha Ryan amongst several others. Casey started the season very well but has tired and his form has deteriorated significantly IMO. I doubt any Munster fan would take Stander ahead of Coughlan.

        I not bleating about injury crisis etc as these things happen, and its swings and roundabouts. But I would consider there to be a substantial gulf in class between the 22 from Saturday and those that were beaten in two SF under Pennys watch.

        • Donal

           /  January 19, 2015

          “I doubt any Munster fan would take Stander ahead of Coughlan. ”

          Wow, for me there is a gulf between these two. Stander was one of the stand out performers in the early rounds of the completion and will very likely come into serious contention for an Ireland jersey when eligible. Coughlan was a solid old pro who tried his heart out.

          • Interesting point, Donal. I agree that Stander is a budding international and that Cawlin was a venerable old pro but I just can’t see Cawlin disappearing from matches the way Stander has when he’s not at his barnstorming best.

            I would have a hard time choosing between them.

          • curates_egg

             /  January 20, 2015

            Most teams anywhere would be climbing over themselves to sign Stander. Coughlan, not so much.
            It is really hard to fathom that Munster fans would really think this way and is possibly a reflection of the deep-seated tribalism, which was alluded to above and which definitely made life for Penney very difficult.

          • Lop12

             /  January 20, 2015

            When Stander has sustained that performance level over a number of seasons then I think it would be fair to say he is a better player than Coughlan. He has barely sustained it for consecutive months as it is, and has primarily played well in the Pro12. Coughlan saved his best for the big day.

          • curates_egg

             /  January 20, 2015

            Now you’re contradicting yourself. Coughlan saved his best for the big day i.e. he was pretty middling a lot of the time. If Stander was from Clanwilliam, something tells me your opinion of him would be different.

        • But this Munster team got eliminated at game 5 of the European season, not game 8 like the last 2 seasons. The gulf isn’t *that* big.

        • Yossarian

           /  January 20, 2015

          Lop12 Stander was unreal against Sale!how can you say he saves his best for Pro12!?!He is 24 in his third season and bizarrely seemed out of favor with Penney so how is meant to sustain it over a “number of seasons”!?!
          He has a far higher ceiling than Coughlin. I always admired Coughlin as an example of what a player can do with limited athleticism and by being a grafter with a great head for the game but there is a valid reason why he hasn’t a dozen caps for Ireland and it isn’t just Jame Heaslip.

          • Lop12

             /  January 20, 2015

            Sale are fifth from bottom of the Aviva, no better than Pro12 standard. I agree with you completely on Standers ceiling, but his ceiling is and was absolutely useless to us last weekend when we needed experience and doggedness. Now he may well have provided it if he had remained on the field but thats just guessing…

          • Lop12

             /  January 20, 2015

            @curatesegg. it is quite possible to play well every week and save your best for the big days. In fact, no matter how shit you are you will still have a “best” no matter when you produce it!!

  11. red*razors

     /  January 19, 2015

    This is just idle speculation, but do the teams with an actual director of rugby fare any better on average than teams without? Following on from Lop12’s comment about Foley’s responsibilities as head man. Is there something to be said for having two positions – the brains and the person to implement the plan.

    Not that it goes any way to excusing or even explaining what happened on Saturday.

  12. Kelly Peters

     /  January 19, 2015

    Speaking as a Munster fan the last few years have been like watching an ageing great boxer. The creaking joints have been hiding in plain sight, the legs slowly getting slower but like all great boxers the last thing to go is always the punch. Once in a while an opponent, Harlequins in 2013 or Toulouse in 2014, will hang their chin out long enough for us to deliver the knockout blow. But I’ve been waiting for the punch that signals the end of an era and I think this was it.

    I’m glad you guys brought up the Penney debacle because that was a missed opportunity for me. When I think of the sh*te Penney got in the press and from fans I think of Jerry Flannery’s sly dig at Mick Galway. The old guard were horrified at the move away from “traditional values” and they weren’t shy at having a pop at every opportunity. Every misstep was laid at his door and all the positive developments seemed to be despite him rather than because of him. While he wasn’t perfect he was at least trying to bring Munster into the 21st century when most seemed happy in the past with the liginds of ore when men were men and all that nonsense.

    He came in and immediately thought the idea that a professional team would be based in two cities, two hours apart was a joke (he was right) and made the move to base training solely in Limerick, immediately offending the Cork mafia and sealing his fate. While his game plan had flaws I think the idea of it was good given the make up of the side. In Tommy O’Donnell, POM, CJ Stander and now Robin Copeland they have 4 rangy loose forwards who are better in space than in tight. In Zebo, Earls, Jones and Conway there is genuine pace to do damage.

    Throw in the fact he comes from Cantabury which is a team that dominated despite not having the stars of Auckland or Wellington and with a strong emphasis on youth development where the system is king I thought if given enough rope he would make it work. Instead the Munster brass reigned him in and went for a package that would keep fans and the media off their backs and now look where we are.

    Humiliated in Europe, the last link to the past preparing to sail off into the sunset and the best young talent to come through the ranks in years hoping the ferry for London. A young talent who was the best fly half at a tournament that featured flyhalves Handre Pollard who’s playing for SA, Kyle Godwin who has starred in Super Rugby and was on the fringes of the Wallabies before he got injured, Ihia West of the Blues, Henry Slade and others.

    But hey at least we got a return to Munster values

    • I agree largely with your view of how Penny was treated but my pedantic side couldn’t let the comment on Cantabury go. To say they don’t have the stars of Auckland or wellington is just not correct. This is a side with Dan Carter, Richie McCaw, Kieran Reid, Sam whitelock and Owen franks all of whom have been key players for NZ.

      • Kelly Peters

         /  January 19, 2015

        If we’re being pedantic the side your speaking of is the Crusaders, who while “linked” are pretty much a separate entity. If you look at the bio’s of the Crusaders players they play about as often as our provincial sides play for their clubs, which is next to never once they crack the Super Rugby team. So while he did have a few star names they were very young when they did play. If you look up the years he did win the top scorers for his teams are very much the lesser lights.

  13. DeerinCaughtinHeadlights

     /  January 19, 2015

    I fail to understand the repetition of “traditional Munster values”, not in this blog which I understand does so with tongue firmly in cheek, but in the wider media. It may be because I’m a relatively young fan but I don’t care whether Munster play a forward oriented game or a backs dominated game, as long as they are playing well. This is my confusion with Leinster fans at the moment too. I don’t understand why they seem to be more angry over Leinster not playing “like Leinster” rather than the fact that they were playing badly.

    At the weekend Munster’s forwards were appalling, not just bad, dreadful. But Zebo, Conway and Jones all consistently broke the gainline, who on the team couldn’t see that? Who thought it was a good idea to keep shoveling the ball to POC who would have played better if he had no hands. Was Foley blind to this? Did he not think that maybe Hanrahan could have gotten the ball further away from the ruck and maybe to a player that could do something? This is what I’m unhappy about. It is irrelevant to me, and I think it should be to any other fan, what manner in which Munster play, Pennyball or Tradishun, if they are executed well. The problem seems to be that Munster lack the either the coaches or the players to execute a gameplan well on a consistent basis.

    This is also why I don’t understand the criticism of Munster as a club for appointing Foley as head coach, he may not have been a head coach at any point but he had been assistant coach at one of the top rugby clubs in the world, it’s not like there is a huge number of coaches with experience of being head coaches available. Foley, like all coaches may need time to get things sorted.

    PS Was there anything worse than seeing Duncan Williams completely out of his depth? Any team in the world would suffer if they lost a player as good as Murray, and no-one seemed to miss him more than Williams.

    • Letthelionroar

       /  January 20, 2015

      Well said young man/woman. I couldn’t agree more with all your points above. On the Williams thing tho: It was sad to see but what was even worse was they didn’t see it necessary to bring some cover for him on the bench, on the slight possibility he might have a bad game (sarcasm sensors should be on overdrive). Gerry Hurley or someone like that might have been able to bring something to the game off the bench considering how bad Williams was going. I am not a big fan of the blame the coaches’ culture but I would point the finger for leaving such a specialist position exposed.

      • Were there any other scrummies registered for Europe (apart from Murray & Williams)

        • Letthelionroar

           /  January 21, 2015

          I know Sherdian was registered too and you are allowed make two total changes to your squad at any stage during the pool stages. With Pat Howard brought in I thought that left one more.

          But a quick look at the rules and it turns out that one of the two needs to be a front row foward. So I stand corrected and my above comment is void as there was nothing Foley could have done. For those interested in the rule see below:

          3.5 Each club may register up to two additional players during the pool stage, each to replace a player previously registered. If a club registers two additional players, one such player must be a front row player. Additional players must have a three-month contract with the club and must not have played for another club in the tournament. Additional player registrations must be submitted by 12 noon (GMT) on the Tuesday before the match. De-registered players may be re-registered (in place of the relevant additional players) during the pool stage.

  14. Andrew097

     /  January 20, 2015

    The story of the weekend for Irish rugby is the inability to pass a ball three feet without dropping it. Or a raft of little mistakes. Ulster and Munster punished badly by serious teams Leinster getting away with it because the French could not be bothered. The other glaring problem was the structure of the scrums. Particularly wing forwards not supporting their props to the end. It’s no sense to be under pressure then make it eight agains five by heads coming up. That way you just encourage the opposition to hurt you.

  15. Kevin

     /  January 20, 2015

    Paying off the debt star, and renovating Musgrave Park for good measure. A complete lack of succession planning and horrible transfer business for years. A Coach in his first head coaching gig surrounded by his old mates (presumably yes men) all in their first job too. Very few players being developed, and when one gem emerges he decides to fuck off (and he’s dead right!). A game plan that was out of date 5 years ago even when they had the Irish pack. New Zealand’s record try scorer employed as a corporate ambassador while some AIL head coaches their joke of a backline….all in all a shambolically run organisation and I don’t see any quick fix.

    A quality marquee signing a la Kieran Read should be top of their priorities..wishful thinking considering the Bruce Craig’s and Mourad ‘John Du Pont’ Boudjellal’s of this world, but they need one by whichever means possible. A signing like this would (imo) bring in any casual supporter who is half considering attending a Rabo match and would also improve them drastically. Not a fan of bringing in expensive Sanzar’s marginally better than/the same standard as local talent and stopping more indigenous players coming through (Zane Kirchner, Stephane Terblanche) but Munster have so many players that are nowhere near International standard that quality imports will be needed until their academy starts producing players of a calibre higher than Duncan Williams! Essentially they need to name a stand after JP Mc Manus and beg him for millions!!

    • Yossarian

       /  January 20, 2015

      Totally disagree that a marquee signing should be top of their priorities(other than the financial impossibility of such a move) Munster had a chance in ’06 ’09 to become the biggest club in Ireland and grow the game to regions that had previously been GAA strongholds. They missed it. When Leinster won in ’09 and replaced them at the top of the pile instead of chasing marquee signings they spent more than ever on RDO’s/taking the cup on tours of schools/created emerging schools leagues etc. They never replaced Rocky, Stan Wright and CJ Van Der Linde with more southern hemisphere players instead went on recruitment strategy of promoting youth or bringing back overseas Irish like Ross and Reddan.
      Dave Foley is having his “breakthrough year”(48 games for Munster)while in Leinster Ruddock and Ryan who are two years younger have 91 and 77 games each already.
      The Club mentality of having to “earn the jersey” is outdated when it comes to nurturing young talent and Munster are suffering because they stick to it. Why is JJ leaving?for this very reason.

    • Lop12

       /  January 20, 2015

      Id agree with the need for a marquee signing. Also need to trim the squad significantly. By doing so you are sending a clear message to all the players that the gravy train is over and mediocraty will not be accepted. Im sure we could both name ten players easily who could be cut loose with little negative impact on the squad, harsh perhaps but this is a proffessional sport and the time for sentiment is long gone.

      its an issue though that even Kieran Read isnt going to solve our problems in any meaningful way without an investment in the front row as well (at least). BJ is finished, Archer is not international class. With a bit of luck injury wise we have three decent hookers on the payroll. Loosehead also is reasonably served with Kilcoyne/Cronin and Ryan. We are lacking ballast and experience in the 2nd row if/when POC goes. Our back row would be much better judged if you were comfortable with tight five resources.

      @kellyPeters hit the nail on the head above with his commentary on four main back rows being “4 rangy loose forwards who are better in space than in tight”. This as much as anything is why I was so disappointed when Coughlan was released (not as @curatesegg noted because of “deep-seated tribalism” ); dont forget he was released as a “favour” to him effectively to give him a payday. What a horrible decision in hindsight (did you even need hindsight?) considering he was exceptional in Clermont SF last year. He would have provided an excellent counterpoint to the looser back rows we have.

      Do I have any confidence that either the signing or the cull will happen. None at all to be honest.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  January 20, 2015

      Very fair point on Doug Howlett especially when all we heard when he was playing was about how much he taught the players around him. Maybe he’s just not into coaching but I’d throw the kitchen sink at him if it was even an option. That’s a guy who’s a natural leader, who been there and done it, played with and been coached by the best in the business and most importantly (in the eyes of old guard) is very much a Munster man. Btw would does the role of brand ambassador entail. Seems to be sweet f other than checking the bank balance for the monthly check!!

      As for marquee signings I just don’t think they’re out there anymore. We can’t compete with the Top 14 or Boshership so need to be smarter. And even if they were I’m not sure how much a Kieran Read would help on his own. The recruitment has been a bug bear of mine for years now. Why sign a mid level guy like Tyler Bleyendal when we already have JJ and Keatley. Same goes for GVdH when we have Conway, Jones, Earls and Zebo. Not to mention the seemingly unending stream of big but equally useless centres.

      • D6W

         /  January 20, 2015

        As for marquee signings, I think Leinster have proved the right ones really can have a big impact on the team and those around them IE Isa, Rocky, and Hines. Munster could also point to Jim WIlliams and Dougie. But I don’t know how the provinces identify these signings, and it seems of late that all the provinces (maybe with exception of Connacht) have picked some duds. In Leinsters case, i nominate Kane Douglas exhibit A.

        Interestingly, Connacht took another Leinster dud signing, Roux, and turned him into a decent 2nd row.

        • Kelly Peters

           /  January 20, 2015

          I totally agree that in the right situation a marquee signing can be a major asset. Williams and Howlett were huge for Munster both on and off the field. And for Leinster Rocky Elsom is the great example. He didn’t stay long but he was the perfect player at the perfect time and pushed Leinster over the top. But the key is the environment they game into all three came into situations where there were very good teams full of talent that needed an infusion of class to become great. That’s not the case in Munster anymore. There’s too many holes in the team. Though if JJ wasn’t leaving and O’Connell seemingly ready to retire maybe a top class tighthead and centre might get Munster there or there abouts.

          Would you regard Nacewa as having being a marquee signing? I would consider him to have been a great signing as things played out but I don’t remember him being too heralded when he came.

          • D6W

             /  January 20, 2015

            Depends what you consider “marquee”. Isa came at a time when any NIQ player in provinces was rare. He was certainly trumpeted on arrival by Cheika. I remember clearly, because my first impression of him after 2 games was that he was crap!

            If by “marquee” you mean a proven world class player when signed, then Isa certainly would not qualify.

          • Kelly Peters

             /  January 20, 2015

            @D6W That would be my impression too. Not a marquee guy on arrival but certainly grew into a marquee name. My first distinct memory of Isa was driving down to the Kinsale 7’s with a car full of Leinster fans listening with glee as they lamented the loss of Rob Kearney, referring to Nacewa as nothing more than an average fly-half who would be horribly exposed. To this day they deny this conversation ever took place.

            For me Nacewa is the type of guy we should be targeting. Fringe AB’s and Super Rugby players with obvious talent. For instance last season you could have got Fekitoa for next to nothing as he was released from the Blues to make space for Benji Marshall. Colin Slade is another guy who bounced around for years trying to find a start and is now in the AB squad. I’m sure Ben Smith would’ve considered a move up until recently as it didn’t look like he’d ever make the step up to the AB’s. Fritz Lee was a guy I watched for years and thought he could do a job in Europe and low and behold he’s pulling up trees in Clermont. There are guys there if you apply the right pressure at the right time. I remember Leinster almost got Willie Le Roux but lumped for Kirchner in the end. Don’t know the ins and outs but I remember hearing the deal was pretty much done at one stage.

  16. “Penney’s contract wasn’t renewed”
    Correction of the implication here. Penney was offered an extension, had agreed it verbally before taking an offer in Japan.

  17. Kevin

     /  January 20, 2015

    Thanks for your points lads. By the way I only used Read as an example…it could be a Folau, Conrad Smith or whoever, though I do agree a tight head should probably be top of the list. This will obviously be ridiculously hard given lack of finance and chronic loss of prestige and brand value as of late, and I’d rather live on the beach in Toulon than anywhere in Ireland to be honest. If this isn’t possible then they need to look at disgruntled All Black cast off’s, or AB’s who’s International careers will end once a new RWC cycle begins (Howlett was prime example of this). I was shocked to see Rudi Wulf was still alive when named on the bench vs Ulster at the weekend, a player like this would walk into any Irish team and I think a similar class of player should be targeted.

    Another important point I feel is that now that Connacht are actually half decent it will be a lot harder for Munster to poach their best players. David Mc Sharry, Nathan White, and Mick Kearney would all be brilliant signings for Munster (imo) but they’re not going anywhere soon …apart from Kearney who’ll probably end up back in Leinster!

    • Lop12

       /  January 20, 2015

      it isnt impossible to locate good players below international level a decent example appears to be Wiann Herbst at Ulster who looks to be a v good tighthead..certainly better than what is available in Munster currently.

    • Yossarian

       /  January 21, 2015

      With financial restrictions i think the provinces will have to take bigger and bigger risks on less tested players. Blyendell for JJ seems like bad business at the moment.
      Jerry Collins just signed for a proD2 team.Perhaps thats the level we might have to shop at in future.
      Good article on youth development.

      http://dementedmole.com/2015/01/20/the-age-of-aquarius/#more-4013

      A lot to get through but makes the point there is enough average players to fill the journeyman roles in knocking aorund irish rugby without signing overseas journeymen.

  18. Kevin

     /  January 20, 2015

    Look no further than Bundee Aki, Jake Heenan and Tom Mc Cartney

    • Mary Hinge

       /  January 20, 2015

      Maybe Foley should ask Pat Lam to pass on some tips on likely lads down New Zealand way as possibilities for Munster?

      • Kevin

         /  January 21, 2015

        He could ask Pat how to pass the ball while he’s at it!

  19. All this chat about marquee players and coaches seems to me to be besides the point: what’s happened to the underlying structures?

    I believe the Munster academy was revamped in recent years – can someone who knows the province confirm/deny?

    Was the academy neglected in past years, or is the problem at schools/AIL level?

    Is it money – certainly Limerick was disproportionately hit by the depression and the Debt Star doesn’t help? Is this a factor in redeveloping Musgrave and moving more games there i.e. they’re chasing hospitality money?

    Why are talented Munster kids – I’ll give O’Leary at Grenoble and Dillane at Connacht as examples – escaping the Munster net (P.S. cheers)?

    • Lop12

       /  January 20, 2015

      I think O Leary is at connacht as well now, open to correction. And he is no more than a club player in reality. Dillane is a better example. My understanding is he was offered a sub academy place at Munster and a full academy place at Connacht and decided to go where the path was clearer; excellent decision from a young lad really in hindsight.

    • SOL and Dillane were not wanted by Munster after u18/19s. Sean McCarthy and then John Madigan were preferred to Dillane and Dillane moved to Connacht
      Shane was behind Rory Scannell amongst others and
      SOL is more than a club player. Represented Canada u20s through his mother who is Canadian and was instrumental in getting them to finish 2nd in JWT, got contract to france out of that and Connacht looked for him for this season

      • Lop12

         /  January 21, 2015

        Thanks, I was aware of the Canadian thing. I might be completely wronging the lad but he hasnt gotten much of a chance at Connacht as far as I can see and much and all as I would love to see another ex-cookie make the breakthrough Im not sure he is that standard.

    • Kelly Peters

       /  January 20, 2015

      Multitude of problems with the Munster youth system that goes through every stage of rugby. First off the schools cup is a bag of sh*te. The level of competition isn’t a patch compared to Leinster and Ulster schools cup. Then when the contracted lads move onto college’s it’s impossible to have a unified approach to underage coaching when half the players are based in Limerick and the other half are in Cork. When they do get together it’s a two slog in the car each way. Club game has traditionally been strong but the economy meant more people moving to Dublin for jobs or giving up rugby to focus on work so the traditional big club teams are nowhere near what they used to be and that filters into all areas. There’s also the big chunk of players on the fringes of the academy who move to Dublin for college so those lads are now playing for the big Dublin clubs where they previously turned out for Shannon and so on.

      The whole thing is a mess. From what I know there was a huge focus on milking sponsors and building the debtstar and they took their eye off the youth system as at the time there was a stream of talent flowing in. It was all about branding and success and the new stadium. They’ve been trying to turn things around the last few years but it’ll be a long road and still little in the way of all clear plan of action. It’s just papering over the cracks.

      Say what you want about Leinster but their academy is a well oiled machine and while they lucked into the RDS and the new training facilities they’ve always had a huge focus on the pathways for youngsters into the first team.

      • Yossarian

         /  January 21, 2015

        See i think your last line is key. Leinster used to put youngsters into the first team

        http://dementedmole.com/2015/01/20/the-age-of-aquarius/#more-4013

        As a team grows in success and the price of failure becomes greater you are less likely to take that chance. Did Kidney mortgage munsters future by sticking with the old guard too long? I worry Leinster are going down a similar road with MOC selecting McGrath/Fanning over Kelleher/Sam Coughlan Murray/Adam Byrne.
        Or is there a club idea of “earning the jersey” i mentioned earlier as opposed to taking a chance on someone. It takes a lot of courage as a coach to throw in a young lad over an experienced campaigner. Foley choosing Hurley over JJ seems like an unwillingness to take a chance. Likewise MOC worried for his future doing the same.

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