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16th Jun 2024

“Christ, it’s going to sting for a while” – Graham Rowntree reflects on Munster’s “cruel” URC exit

Ronan Calvert

Graham Rowntree

Graham Rowntree was bitterly disappointed on Saturday night.

Saturday was a desperate day for Irish Rugby as both Munster and Leinster were knocked out of the URC in the semi-final stages.

Leinster fell to a 25-20 defeat to the Bulls in Pretoria to finish a third successive season without silverware, while Munster coughed up their URC crown with a 10-17 loss against Glasgow at Thomond Park.

It means the season ends as it started – with a sickening feeling in the stomach of Irish Rugby.

The fierce disappointment of October’s World Cup quarter-final defeat to New Zealand meant this season was always going to be difficult for the provinces’ international stars, but they still would have hoped for better than this.

As the last Irish team standing, Munster were perfectly primed to retain the league title. All that stood in their way was a home semi-final against Glasgow and another potential Thomond Park clash for the final against the Bulls.

Unfortunately, they were unable to get the first part of the job done, with the Warriors’ relentless breakdown work and courageous defending leaving Munster short on attacking ideas.

Unlike Glasgow, the men in red failed to take their chances despite long spells in possession and eventually their wastefulness came back to bite them on the scoreboard.

“Christ, it’s going to sting for a while,” admitted head coach Graham Rowntree in his post-match interview at Thomond Park.

“You gotta take your chances in this game…cruel…didn’t take our chances.

“First half with all that territory and possession and then they got that loose try

“Second half was similar looking…try for them…we get down near their line.

“We weren’t accurate enough, we were almost trying to force things too much,” he explained.

“I’m immensely proud of where we finished this year. We topped the league, we earned a home semi-final.”

Experienced players in the Munster dressing room like Simon Zebo, RG Snyman and Antoine Frisch will all now depart the province.

But while Rowntree is disappointed not to give them a better send-off, he is also optimistic about the younger players emerging in their positions.

“The future’s bright, the guys we’ve got coming through. Yeah, there’s a few guys moving on who deserved better than what we gave them tonight.

“That’s sport, they’ll move on, we’ll move on. This is going to sting – and rightly so – for a long time.

“You’ve earned yourself a home semi-final and then to not get the job done…that’s going to sting.”

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