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Munster have immense character but not much else - Monday Night Rugby

Munster beat Castres on Friday night, but it was another performance that suggests the coaching staff isn't doing what it's supposed to do.

Cian Fahey
Cian Fahey

17:56 17 Jan 2022



Irish Times journalist Gerry Thornley joined Monday Night Rugby to look back on Munster and how they escaped with a victory against Castres.

Munster are not exciting fans right now. But they are winning games.

The southern province are in position to advance in Europe after a Friday night victory over familiar foes Castres. Jack Crowley made all of his kicks and Gavin Coombes scored a try at the death to win the game. Winning an away game in Europe, against French opposition, while two young players have big impacts should mean all boxes are ticked.

However, that's not how the game actually played out. Crowley was good and Coombes continues to impress, but Munster's playing style is draining for everyone involved. It bores fans, drains journalists and limits the players on the field.

Gerry Thornley of the Irish Times said the game was so bad he won't rewatch it. He's not alone in that. More importantly, it's a performance that suggests Munster have major problems.

"It would be impossible to see that kind of performance beat any of the top sides in Europe," Thornley said.

"They played much more rugby when they went down to Toulouse last year in the last 16. It was a really good game. They played some good rugby that day. They played some outstanding rugby to win away to Clermont last season. We haven't seen that this season."

Stephen Larkham will depart Munster at the end of the season. He is the team's attack coach and he has made no real impact on the team during his tenure. Joey Carbery's absence alone can't be blamed. Neither can RG Snyman's. Munster's style of play is so remedial that it is beyond explanation.

Thornley outlines the and understands the issues, but can't understand the lack of ambition.

"They have had the most disruptions of any team in Europe when you think of the hiatus post that South Africa trip, Joey Carbery being injured, again losing RG Snyman and so forth. They have had a very disrupted time of it. Johann Van Graan and the assistants have had to make constant changes to make sure there was plenty of game time around the squad.

"Then they lose Ben Healy for this game as well so you get a young debutant coming in at out-half.

"But all that being said, there aren't any options...little chips over the top that are pre-planned. Rory Scannell made a couple of half breaks but there was nothing on for him when he made those half breaks. They're a hard watch at times. Certainly Castres-Munster games are particularly hard to watch.

"There's been 19 of these games now and they all blend into one."

The players don't deserve too much blame. Most of them are just lacking experience. Talented players such as Crowley and Coombes need direction and structure. The Munster coaching staff never provided that. At least not in an attacking sense. Even while the team plays a turgid style, the individuals wearing the jerseys are fighting each game.

Thornley credits their efforts over recent weeks.

"To be fair to them they've got immense character.

"There's not many teams around that would have beaten Ulster with 14 men...there's not many teams that would have extricated themselves from that position [against Castres] four points down with just five minutes left."

Jack Crowley creates a problem for Munster, Ireland and the IRFU

 

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Gerry Thornley Jack Crowley Johann Van Graan Munster

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