Ben Brady/INPHO Cormac Foley scores a try in Leinster's victory over Munster.
# mind the gap
'Byrne is 3rd-choice and Foley is 4th-choice. They were clearly the better half-backs in this game'
Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey dissected Leinster’s highly impressive victory over Munster on today’s members’ rugby pod.

ONE OF THE most impressive results of Leo Cullen’s Leinster reign was also one of the worst of Johann van Graan’s at Munster.

That the outcome will have no tangible bearing on Leinster’s season but was extremely detrimental to Munster’s chances of ending their trophy drought only added to the polar-opposite emotions felt by both sets of coaching tickets, playing squads and fans in the aftermath of Leinster’s 35-25 victory at the Aviva Stadium.

Naturally, Saturday’s interpro was top of the agenda on today’s Rugby Weekly Extra podcast for The42 members, with Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Gavan Casey attempting to make sense of what they saw from both sides at Lansdowne Road.

Noting that Munster often become “the story” when they lose to their eastern neighbours, host Gavan asked that Murray and Bernard instead initially focus on a sublime victory by a heavily experimental Leinster, who had opted to rest ostensibly their entire first-team matchday squad.

rory-oloughlin-celebrates-scoring-a-try Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Rory O'Loughlin celebrates his try. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

“It was the detail,” Gavan said. “Everything about their performance seemed so polished. Beforehand, I would have expected Munster to win this game, just looking at the two 23s. But it was Leinster’s cohesion that seemed so much better than Munster’s even though this team had literally never played together before.”

“Yeah. This is the story of the game for me,” Murray replied. “I know we’ll come to Munster and there’s loads to chat about there, but I think this game is predominantly about how brilliant Leinster were and are.

“They score after one minute and 20 seconds. If you were like me and you have bad eyesight, and if you were at the stadium without your glasses, you could have sworn it was the same team that played against Toulouse, the way they started the game. It was exactly the same manner, the same approach, the same ‘cohesion’ as you mention. It’s a popular word at the moment because it’s so relevant to a team like Leinster.

“Every single Leinster player puts pressure on themselves to deliver their part of the detail in the overall plan, and they do it with a bit of coaching fresh in their minds because Stuart Lancaster is all over that kind of stuff. The likes of Johnny Sexton are all over that kind of stuff.

joe-mccarthy-scott-penny-and-max-deegan-celebrate-after-the-game Dan Sheridan / INPHO Joe McCarthy, Scott Penny and Max Deegan celebrate after the game. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Ed Byrne’s third choice. Seán Cronin’s fourth choice, is he? [Tom] Clarkson’s third or fourth choice.

The half-backs: Harry Byrne is the third-choice out-half and Cormac Foley is fourth-choice scrum-half. They were clearly the better half-backs on the pitch in this game. And that’s both damning for Munster given the importance of this game for them, but also an absolute credit to Leinster. Go through their team. Like, we talk second string, but Rob Russell: where is he in the pecking order realistically?

“But every single one of those Leinster players [impressed], for lots of the reasons we’ve discussed — in terms of the pressure, the constant need for competition, but also just having responsibility for your performance and not letting an opportunity slip. And that’s definitely what Munster have done.

“But every single one of the Leinster players grasped their opportunity.

Look at that back row: Scott Penny and Max Deegan. Like, they were the outstanding back rows, really, in this game, and they’re not even in the first-choice 23 for Leinster which is outstanding for them but pitiful, really, for others.

Later in the podcast, Bernard, who co-commentated on the game for RTÉ, expressed his bewilderment at the state of Munster’s attack, laying the blame not only with the coaches but with the southern province’s individual players.

“Like, Munster are trying, effectively, to play the same shape as Leinster off an edge, which is a 3-2 shape,” he said. “And the connect player, if it’s Joey out the back; he’s not animated, sometimes he doesn’t bother following them… And then when he does do it, the pass isn’t where it needs to be or he gets too lateral so that Leinster can come up and shut him down. The two guys who are supposed to be running off his shoulder are too deep or not connected.

“Like, it’s a really poor copy-and-paste job. And again, Ireland are doing this. So, Joey and Conor [Murray] and whoever… It’s not just down to Larkham. I mean, these lads should know how to do it properly. The worst thing is actually an imitation but not actually having the work rate or the tools to do it properly.

“I downloaded the game to look at Leinster’s tackle tech”, Jackman later added, “because it was majestic. But then when I looked back on it, I was like, ‘Well, yeah, it was really good, but it was so easy for them to make those double hits because it was very easy to see who was going to carry the ball.

“Whereas Leinster don’t make it easy for the opposition to make double hits on them.

Jesus, I wouldn’t like to be in the Munster review from an attacking point of view. I don’t know what they were doing for the last few weeks, given the fact that they didn’t have a European semi-final to prepare for. I thought they would have come into this game cohesive, locked and loaded; knowing that Leinster would turn their team, a big chance to get a home quarter-final and semi-final. And they just blew a massive opportunity. I thought it was very, very poor.

joey-carbery-dejected-after-the-game Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Joey Carbery comes to terms with Munster's latest defeat to Leinster. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

Gavan then relayed to Bernard and Murray a conversation from The42 members’ rugby WhatsApp group, wherein member Brian Hughes asked ‘Berch’ if it might be time for Munster to move on from Carbery as their starting out-half, to which his fellow member ‘Johnb B’ replied, “I think Joey would probably look great playing at 10 in blue!”

Jackman said: “I think Joey would look much better playing at 10 in blue because everybody’s in place. I don’t think he’s the type of 10 who will get everybody into place. He has a more laissez-faire attitude. He’s very good individually but just look back at how many times he ended up just kind of darting around the place, trying to find a gap — which is his strength, but not against teams with good line integrity. You’re just going to get swallowed up.

“I don’t know whose fault it is.

It’s just hard to believe that Munster went out there with such a lack of a plan. And it’s not even a plan! It’s just basic things for that game. They didn’t need to invent anything new for the Leinster game. But they weren’t even implementing any attacking principles that most teams would have.

“I just don’t know. If you’re praising Leinster’s culture, and the player ownership and things like that, you have to then, obviously, question Munster’s.”

“I think Joey would look good in a blue jersey at 15 even, maybe,” Murray laughed, picking up on the listener’s point. “I had exactly the same thought during the game: ‘It be really interesting to see Joey Carbery at 10, there.’

“I thought Harry Byrne had a really good — kind of understated, calming, mature — performance.

joey-carbery Ben Brady / INPHO Joey Carbery is tackled as he slips to ground. Ben Brady / INPHO / INPHO

“Joey is an interesting case. He has such good individual skills. You can see even a few glimpses where he flicks the ball up one-handed and starts darting around, and we know he’s brilliant at that stuff. The more intangible stuff is where you’d have doubts or question marks.

“You’re watching the game, we’re not on the pitch so we can’t hear his communication, we can’t hear how confident he is in delivering calls to his team and directing them. And listen, other players need to work better around you. But your 10 is your game-driver. My sense is that that’s not as natural or as comfortable a thing for him: to be the boss, to be in charge. Again, I’m literally just judging on body language and the players around him, but maybe it just doesn’t come as naturally to him as it does to the likes of the Byrne brothers who just love telling people where to go. Johnny Sexton is similar.

He (Carbery) is a different player. And if your out-half is a more instinctive player who can produce those moments, then you’ve gotta have a system organised around him that really brings out the best of him. I think of ‘Quins and Marcus Smith: they put him in loads of really good positions to use his attacking skill set and they do it on a really consistent basis because everyone else around him knows exactly what they’re up to.

The above are just a few written snippets from the lads’ 40-minute chat on Leinster-Munster alone. To listen to the podcast in full, which also includes analysis of Ulster’s thrilling victory over the Cell C Sharks, join The42 at

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment

    Leave a commentcancel