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'It's absolutely cruel but I don't know what else they could do'

Munster came out on the wrong side of rugby’s latest penalty shoot-out.

Ben Healy was wide with his two shoot-out efforts.
Ben Healy was wide with his two shoot-out efforts.

THE PENALTY SHOOT-out is a rarity in rugby and Munster are the latest side to come out on the wrong side of it, losing 4-2 to Toulouse at the end of Saturday’s epic European quarter-final.

The place-kicking competition is a cruel way for a game to be decided, as discussed by Bernard Jackman, Ciarán Kennedy and Murray Kinsella on today’s edition of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra podcast for members of The42

It happened back in 2009 in the Heineken Cup semi-finals when Leicester squeezed past Cardiff Blues 7-6 on penalties, all of which were taken directly in front of the posts on the 22-metre line by a different place-kicker each time.

In 2010, the Argentina U20s beat Wales 9-8 on penalties. The format there saw each team pick five players to take kicks from different positions along the 22. After five kicks each, it became sudden death and Argentina won.

Last year, Biarritz were promoted into the Top 14 in France after winning in a penalty shoot-out Basque rivals Bayonne, with back row Steffon Armitage slotting the winning kick. The format there was the same as the Leicester v Cardiff game back in 2009.

And on Saturday in Dublin, we got the latest penalty shoot-out in a new format where Munster and Toulouse nominated three kickers each and they kicked in the format below.

EPCR

The latest example of a penalty shoot-out in rugby has raised debate as to whether it’s the right way to decide big knock-out games like Saturday’s, with one of our members putting the question to the lads on today’s podcast.

Murray: “We got a question from Hugh Ó’Laoide in the members’ WhatsApp group and he wants to know your thoughts on penalty shoot-outs as a spectacle and as a fair way to split the teams. What’s your view, Berch?”

Bernard: “I don’t know what else they could do. If one team scores more tries, they go through but Munster and Toulouse were tied up on that. It’s absolutely cruel but it had to end.

“It hasn’t happened very often and I haven’t seen a better solution, to be honest. I prefer the three kickers than five kickers, where you had Martyn Williams having to take a kick (for Cardiff in 2009). The other way probably adds more drama to it but at least you’ve got three players ideally who are used to goal-kicking.

“I remember the Top 14 promotion play-off with Biarritz and Steffon Armitage was the one who kicked the winning kick. It’s great for him but realistically you’re asking players to go and do something they’ve very rarely done. 

“Dupont, every French nine practices kicking, Ben Healy, Conor Murray, they’re goal-kickers, so it goes down to them. It’s still cruel.”

Murray: “What’s your view on the shoot-out, Ciarán?”

Ciarán: “It’s an awful way to lose the game and we don’t see it happening very often in rugby so there’s still that bit of novelty around it. It was a strange experience watching it over in Leicester where the game had started and I was keeping an eye on the laptop while watching the game in front of me. My heart rate was all over the place and I didn’t know where to look.

CM Conor Murray lines up the first kick of the shoot-out.

“It’s a horrible way to lose a game but they’ve got to do something to decide the game. You feel particularly bad for Ben Healy because missing twice like that will live with him for a long time. He might never find himself in that situation ever again so for a young player to experience that is difficult.

“The obvious comparison that’s been made is ROG in the Heineken Cup final in 2000. He bounced back from that and went on to have a pretty decent career. It’s a horrible way to lose a game.”

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Murray: “You can’t forget a game with a peno shoot-out and I’m putting it on the record: I absolutely loved it.

“I know it’s cruel on the players but it’s an incredible spectacle.”

Elsewhere on today’s podcast, the lads broke down Munster’s performance against Toulouse on what was a superb occasion at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

They also went into depth on Leinster’s quarter-final win away to Leicester Tigers and discussed the two huge Champions Cup semi-finals ahead this weekend.

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday and Wednesday, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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