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CEO Ian Flanagan confirms Munster intend to fulfil European fixture against Wasps

With 34 players and staff quarantining in Ireland and another 14 still in South Africa, Munster are set to take to the field with a mixture of Ireland Internationals and academy players.

MUNSTER CEO IAN Flanagan has confirmed the province intends to fulfil the Heineken Champions Cup fixture with Wasps on 12 December. 

ian-flanagan Munster CEO Ian Flanagan (left). Source: Ryan Hiscott/INPHO

Munster will not be able to select any of the travelling party for now-postponed URC games in South Africa, and have been preparing at their High Performance Centre in Limerick with the Irish internationals who did not travel to South Africa along with academy players. They have been coached by academy head Ian Costello. 

Tournament organisers EPCR gave Munster a boost earlier today by extending the deadline for squad registration for the Wasps game, and The42  understands that Munster have been speaking with a number of players from the All-Ireland League about potentially coming onboard ahead of the Wasps game.

The idea of loaning players from the other Irish provinces has also been raised but it’s worth noting that any player who features in the Champions Cup cannot then play for another province/club later in the same tournament.

Speaking to Munster’s in-house media channel, Flanagan says the province will fulfil the fixture. 

“As things stand, as long as we can field a squad of 23 players we intend to complete the fixture and to take the field against Wasps on 12 December”, said Flanagan. “There are an awful lot of moving parts going on at the moment, the situation seems to change on an hourly basis.” 

Munster’s squad is currently split into three groups. Separate to the the internationals and academy players training and preparing for the Wasps game are a group of 34 players and staff that returned home from South Africa yesterday having returned four negative PCR tests across six days. This group are now completing mandatory 10-day self-quarantine at a mix of hotel and home environments. 

Another group of 14 players and staff remain in South Africa, and are completing a mandatory quarantine in their Cape Town hotel. Flanagan says that most of this group are asymptomatic, and where there are symptoms, they remain mild. 

“I want to thank so many people who have helped us hugely. It has been a fast-changing environment, dealing with a lot of unexpected things, and are highly grateful for all the support we’ve had from so many groups and individual people”, said CEO Flanagan. 

Source: Munster Rugby/YouTube

“The 34 individuals who returned to Ireland are Munster players and Munster staff but first and foremost they are people, we were delighted we were able to bring them back as soon and as safely as possible. We know there was huge concern on behalf of that group. It brought home how privileged we are to have so many people who are able to help us, and the resources we have available to us. I know from talking to the ambassador on the ground in South Africa that there are far more people in far more challenging circumstances than us, and we’re hugely fortunate to get that group back safe and sound. 

It was difficult for the group to leave some of our people behind us. We have 14 players and staff in isolation in Cape Town, they are completing their mandatory 10-day quarantine in Cape Town and we look forward to welcoming that group back safely into Ireland when the mandatory quarantine period is finished. The group is being extremely well-cared for on the ground though South African assistance, they have full access to medical treatment. Thankfully the group is safe and well, and are largely asymptomatic. The symptoms seem to be mild for those who have experienced symptoms, so we are very hopeful that they will come through this period without experiencing more serious symptoms. 

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“The group of 14 have access to daily medical attention and mental health supports, and I want to thank our friends at SARU in that regard. 

“The key point I want to make that, for now, even though we are a professional rugby club, rugby is secondary to everything that’s going on now. Our priority is our people, the health and safety of our people, and that we get them back to Ireland and that everyone is safe and well. 

“The last few days have demonstrated – if proof were needed – what an incredible group of people we have within the club but also outside the club working with us. It has been genuinely heartwarming to see the support and the concern expressed, and the assistance coming form every quarter to ensure, first that we come back to Ireland safely, and that we can go out there in the coming weeks to represent Munster. 

“More than anything I want to say thank you to the families and friends of the travelling group that went to South Africa, they have been incredibly supportive and incredibly resilient.”

With reporting by Murray Kinsella  

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Gavin Cooney

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