What Next For Munster Rugby?
A new chapter.
The 2016/17 season will live long in the memory for Munster Rugby and its fans. After a disappointing season the Irish province came int0 last year’s campaign with a new coaching team, and a new lease of life.
The season began positively with Anthony Foley taking a step back to focus on what he did best and that’s being a coach. Experienced South African Rassie Erasmus came in and brought Jacques Nienaber with him and things started to look up…
Then suddenly things came to a halt in October with the devastating death of Anthony Foley. The rugby world was in shock as one of their most famous heroes tragically passed away as a result of a heart condition. What happened next however, was something truly inspiring.
Rather than let Foley’s death destroy their season, Munster used it as inspiration. An historic game against Glasgow followed and Munster never looked back. Foley was honoured in a way he would have wanted- by restoring pride to one of rugby’s most famous jerseys. An incredible run began with Munster topping their Champions Cup group thanks to famous wins over Leicester and Racing. A memorable win over the New Zealand Maori in November proved once again that Thomond Park is a special ground.
Erasmus and his men marched on after Christmas, reaching a Champions Cup semi-final and PRO12 final, selling out stadiums everywhere. The Red Army returned in emphatic fashion. As one life ended, new life was breathed into another.
The South African and his team handled the death of their coach in inspiring fashion, but his time at the club is now set to come to an end in abrupt fashion. So what next for the two-time European champions?
Erasmus and Nienaber are set to leave in December, which quite frankly makes no sense. But Munster’s hands are tied. The timing of his decision to invoke his release clause wasn’t ideal and finding a replacement will not be easy. Ideally both would be replaced in time for the new season, but that’s easier said than done. The next logical move would be to install a temporary team should the right candidate not be available.
There’s absolutely no doubt the Munster job is an attractive proposition for any coach thanks to last season, but unfortunately contract obligations may mean the southern province will have to wait to get their man.
What’s key here is Munster do not rush into an appointment. As I said, the Munster job is a very attractive one and there will be no shortage of CV’s. They’ve added some quality players to their squad this season and already boast some incredible talent with the likes of Conor Murray, CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony, Simon Zebo and Keith Earls all on their books. There’s absolutely no doubt this team is capable of achieving European silverware in the next 2-3 of years, providing the right man is at the helm.
What fans need to realise is last season was supposed to be a year of transition, but as a result of the events that took place, the southern province exceeded all expectations. Don’t expect a similar season this campaign. It’s going to take time to get the right man in place once Erasmus leaves, but whatever you do, keep filling up those stadiums. Ask any player in the current Munster set-up how important it is to have a full house. The fans played a massive role last season and must continue to do so.
While it’s not ideal, Erasmus’ departure is not the end of the world. I for one am still hugely excited for what’s to come at Munster and you should be too.
To the brave and the faithful…