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Munster's new €15m training base could have been a deal-breaker for Rassie Erasmus

“Rugby union wise, it’s probably in the top 10 in the world.”

Gym facilities Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

MUNSTER CEO GARRETT Fitzgerald said that Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus might not have joined the province had they still been operating from both Cork and Limerick.

Speaking during a tour of their new high performance centre in the University of Limerick, Fitzgerald conceded that during their first meeting the South African was perplexed by how a professional club could operate out of two bases 100 kilometres apart.

“We see this as a symbol of our ambition and what we are trying to achieve,” said Fitzgerald. “I think Rassie might not have come at all if there was two centres. He was trying to get his head around it when we spoke on day one.”

Considering that Munster won two Heineken Cups while operating out of two separate bases, Erasmus conceded it displayed huge character and talent from coaches and the squad, but that he wasn’t sure how possible a repeat of that glory would be in the modern era.

“It shows incredible character for the guys previously for the coaches, players to have won trophies the way they did in two centres,” said Erasmus.

“I’m not sure how possible that would be in the modern era. I am sure it would take guys of exceptional talent and character to do that and we have that character and that talent and now in the one centre.

A view of the Munster Rugby High Performance Centre Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

A view of the Munster Rugby High Performance Centre Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I think it’s things like this when you can’t compare with teams on big budgets, things like this make a massive difference and it will drive the players, the coaches and the management to higher standards.”

Erasmus revealed that the first day of his role as senior coach with Stormers was the first day that they also opened their high performance centre, but he admitted he has never seen anything like the facility Munster now have to operate from.

UL have invested €15m of the initial capital for the building that they own, with Munster taking out a 15-year loan on the property, and their rents will go towards the payments for the centre. Once the 15-year deal has concluded Munster then have the option to renew the contract.

But it is with future player recruitment that Erasmus thinks Munster’s new high performance centre will work well. Already new signing Jaco Taute was bowled over by the facilities on hand, while the director of rugby himself is really impressed.

The running track Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

Francis Saili in the Treatment Room Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I don’t know about the rest of the world but rugby union wise, it’s probably in the top 10 in the world. It is certainly something that gives you pride coming to work and something that will certainly drive excellence here.

“From a recruitment side of things, sharing with a young player or even an older player who wants to finish his career here, I think any stage of their careers this is a fantastic spot to come to now and for coaching staff.

“When Jaco Taute saw this, when Jean Kleyn saw this, the guys I know who came here who were used to working in South Africa, immediately they want to take a photo: ‘I want to send this to my mum, my dad, my friends outside, because this is really world class.’”

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Take a look inside Munster’s new High Performance Centre at UL

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Declan Rooney

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