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'The Leinster wins are nearly becoming too frequent for this to be a rivalry anymore'

The latest episode of Rugby Weekly Extra for members of The42 dug into Leinster’s win in Limerick.

Munster were second best last weekend.
Munster were second best last weekend.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IT WAS ANOTHER tough chapter for Munster in their rivalry with Leinster last weekend as Leo Cullen’s team travelled to Thomond Park and left with a bonus-point win.

Leinster’s performance was brilliant in their 34-19 success, as discussed by Bernard Jackman, Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey on today’s episode of The42 Rugby Weekly Extra – which is available exclusively to members of The42 every Monday and Wednesday.

But there was also plenty of chat on the podcast about Munster’s disappointing display and where it leaves the province, with Bernard despondent about the province’s trophy credentials in the closing months of the Johann van Graan era.

“After three phases, I just feel Munster were completely lost,” said Bernard. “And it’s really weird in that they’ve no discernible strategy off transition play or counter-attack, which we all know are massive sources of possession.

“And I think at the end of the game, Stuart Lancaster would be just going, ‘If we just kick the ball down there, they’ll just kick it out and we’ll have a set-piece opportunity in their half.’

“I think it was a very demoralising game for Munster even though the scoreboard wasn’t too bad. I thought it was a very comfortable Leinster win. There’s some mad stats in this rivalry – Ross Byrne has only lost once out of 12 games against Munster.

“The Leinster wins are nearly becoming too frequent for this to really be a rivalry anymore, and I would hate that to happen.

“I’m not having a go for the sake of having a go – I want Munster to be really strong and I think they can be much better than they are. I do believe it’s time for the young players to be given their chance and hopefully, over the next two or three years, they can change the pecking order.

joey-carbery-is-dejected-after-the-game Joey Carbery after Munster's defeat. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I understand that Leinster are phenomenally well-coached, well-resourced, have a lot of internationals and fellas who will be internationals. That’s all clear but I think over the last 10 years, Castres have won two Top 14 trophies, which are hard to win, Connacht have won a Pro14, Scarlets have won a Pro14, Harlequins have won a Premiership – they found some good young players, a good style of play, a strong culture, and they won.

“Munster should be able to win a trophy in the space of 10 or 11 years. If it was a straight league, I would say Leinster should win it every year but it’s not a straight league. There’s play-offs, so you only need to catch them on one bad day for them not to get a trophy.

“I think this season is going to peter out. I thought they were building but I think this season is going to peter out for Munster. It might not be this week, Exeter are rebuilding, but I don’t think anyone leaving that ground as a Munster supporter or with an eye on Munster, was thinking, ‘Yeah, they’re set for success.’

“I know the golden generation had bad days and weren’t the most consistent in the league but they showed enough in knock-out rugby or important games that they could get their mindset right.

“This team, for me, consistently let themselves down.”

While the Munster display on the pitch concerned him, Bernard is also worried about the province’s off-pitch performance.

Van Graan is departing for Bath this summer but Munster have yet to confirm a new appointment in the head coach role ahead of next season.

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johann-van-graan Van Graan is leaving at the end of the season. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“When did Johann van Graan let Munster know he was leaving?” said Bernard.

“It was around November and they still haven’t got a head coach for next season. Is that an organisation that is really geared up for success and to change the pecking order?

“I don’t know how you can leave it that long without announcing or signing up your head coach and letting them get on with it.

“I’m really worried and I felt that speaking to some Munster fans walking out of the ground… they weren’t accepting it but there’s so much narrative around Leinster being unbeatable, I just never expected Munster to believe that or fall into that trap.

“But sometimes I worry that they have and they don’t really believe as a group that they can beat them. It’s what Leinster would want but it’s not good for Munster Rugby.”

To get access to The42 Rugby Weekly Extra, which comes out every Monday with Gavan Casey, Bernard Jackman, and Murray Kinsella, as well as every Wednesday with Eoin Toolan, become a member of The42 at members.the42.ie.

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