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08th Apr 2024

The worrying Craig Casey moment that Munster insisted wasn’t why they lost

Patrick McCarry


“Look, people get sick. That’s part of life.”

Munster captain Tadhg Beirne was not in great shape as he coughed and wheezed through a post-match press briefing, underneath the stand at Franklin’s Gardens. He was certainly under the weather, but not keen to use illness as an excuse on a disappointing day for the province.

Munster gave as good as they got, for 60 minutes, against Northampton Saints before succumbing to a couple of well-taken George Hendy scores in the final stages. They were one of the top seeds in the season’s Champions Cup, following their United Rugby Championship triumph, but could not make that advantage count in the pool stages (winning one of four games) and were duly handed a tough away draw for the Last 16.

Would emerged, just ahead of kick-off and was confirmed during the match, that a stomach bug had affected several of the Munster squad, leading into the game. Some players looked worse for wear during the game, with scrumhalf Craig Casey spotted throwing up, just off the pitch, during the match. Beirne and Peter O’Mahony did not look too great, either. Beirne had a super first hour but was one of several Munster players that could not sustain the intensity and full-bore effort for 80 minutes.


Graham Rowntree on Munster bug

“It’s not been a straightforward week in terms of availability and illness,” Munster head coach Graham Rowntree told reporters, after his side’s 24-14 defeat.

“As you can hear from my man [Tadhg Beirne] here, it has not been the most straightforward but we rolled our sleeves up and got on with it for a big game against a great team. I’m proud of our effort but we’ll sit down and look at how we don’t give away those presents. [to the opposition]”

The former Leicester and England forward was content to leave it at that but, pressed by journalists for more on the illness that had beset the Munster camp, he commented:

“We had a bit of a bug going around the group. We will regroup this week and have a look at what we’re doing. I was just talking to Tadhg about what we will not do this week, rather than what we will do. We will regroup and then we’re down to South Africa for two weeks. Two huge [URC] games again in South Africa and we’ll get on with it.”

Munster will have more cracks at the Champions Cup, in the seasons ahead, but they will definitely not have RG Snyman or Joey Carbery to call on for those occasions. Peter O’Mahony’s contract extension is not signed yet, Simon Zebo may well finish up in the coming months and Antoine Frisch – now that he is set on Test rugby for France – may well be moving on, too.

Next up for Munster are back-to-back URC away dates in South Africa, on April 20 and 27.


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