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The British And French Media Reaction To Contrasting Leinster And Munster Results

The British And French Media Reaction To Contrasting Leinster And Munster Results
By PJ Browne Updated
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The hopes of an All-Ireland Champions Cup semi-final were all but dashed after 20 minutes in Bordeaux on Sunday as Racing tore the Munster defence to shreds at the Stade Chaban-Delmas. There was a second half comeback from Munster but the French side's place in the final never looked in jeopardy.

A day earlier, Leinster had held up their end of the bargain with a hammering of Scarlets at the Aviva. It was a similar game in many ways: one which was long over as a competition before the final whistle.

In The Times, Owen Slot wrote of this being the beginning of another Leinster dynasty.

"Leinster were so good, so far the better team in reaching the Champions Cup final, that assessment of their qualities is beginning to stretch beyond just: how good are they? It is now: who can beat them? And, more pertinently, when? They are not just towering over European rugby this season, they look as though they are settling in. This looks like The Leinster Years, Pt II."

Also in the The Times, Stuart Barnes said that Stuart Lancaster would be mad to leave Leinster for a Premiership director of rugby position.

His name has been mentioned in dispatches. Harlequins are a potential opportunity to make a return to the English game as a director of rugby. If such an offer was made he would be mad to accept. He is the senior coach of the biggest club in Europe with a sophisticated coaching set-up. Why on earth would he wish to trade in all this quality and another crack at a European title for such a backwards step?

Though Delme Parfitt of WalesOnline admits that Leinster would have won on Saturday no matter the venue, he still believes the ECPR needs to reconsider the designation of the Aviva as a neutral venue for Irish sides.


"There was a gulf in class that had no business characterising an encounter at this stage of the tournament.

"The Dublin side would have prevailed wherever this game had taken place.

"But if the one-sided nature of this contest doesn’t persuade organisers to introduce genuinely neutral venues for semi-finals nothing ever will."


Also for WalesOnline, Ben James makes the point that Leinster's ability to punch holes in the Scarlets defence was what won them the game.

But that's where statistics don't tell the full picture.

Sure, the Scarlets only missed ten tackles. But they conceded five tries.

Ultimately, missing tackles didn't matter because the tackles they were making were far from positive.

Leinster continuously drove them back, sucking in more and more defenders until the Scarlets' will broke - creating the space out wide.

It doesn't really matter about missing tackles, if you go backwards every time you make them.

In The Sunday Times, Stephen Jones stated that the Aviva is a more atmospheric ground for Leinster games than it is for Ireland games.


"Of course, Leinster have had good fortune by playing match after match on what amounts to their home ground and it is clear that the Aviva stadium is far more noisy and passionate when Leinster are playing than it is when Ireland are playing. But you also make your own luck with home advantage by finishing high in the pools, and the truth is that Leinster have looked likely winners of this tournament since it began. They still look rampaging favourites."

The Telegraph's Mick Cleary opined that the best teams are in the final.


"In truth, Munster were gallant, but never of champion calibre, masters of rearguard, catch-up play, but horribly slipshod with poor skill levels in the first half. Some of their execution was dreadful. Racing ought not to have been so troubled. Applaud Munster guts, but the right teams are in the final."

For The Guardian, Robert Kitson wrote that the qualities which helped Munster edge the big days in the past are no longer enough.

Poor old Munster. This was their 13th European semi-final and nine have now ended in defeat, with their last final appearance a decade ago. As with the Scarlets, they did wonderfully well to reach the last four, only to run into high-class opponents who would have monstered most teams on the day. The Munster of old used to specialise in confounding the odds but the professional game has moved on. In this sort of company pluck and defiance take a side only so far.

Teddy Thomas and Maxime Machenaud on the front page of L'Equipe

In L'Equipe's match report from Bordeaux, Bertrand Lagacherie was disappointed by the lack of a battle between Conor Murray and Maxime Machenaud.

"As for Conor Murray, we did not see much compared to a Machenaud who led his team to perfection. In short, like the semi-final between Leinster and Llanelli, the match was one-sided."

It was also speculated that the heat in the Stade Chaban-Delmas may have affected Munster.

While backrow Yannick Nyanga was given Man of the Match, Donnacha Ryan's contribution was also highlighted, "Donnacha Ryan was exemplary role in a classic second-line. He has achieved 19 tackles (best of the match) and missed none."

Racing 92 captain, Maxime Machenaud told L'Equipe what happened for his try - a gift from Teddy Thomas.

I applaud him, he thinks I called him and he gave me this pass. I did not want this ball, I almost did it!

It's Teddy's madness, his generosity too. He thought of me, my family (60 Machenauds were in the stands, recognisable by their flocked sky t-shirt "Max 9") We were on vacation together in the area last week and he got that attention.

It's very strong because I know the wingers: they like to score and watch the stats.

Leinster's Saturday semi-final with against the Scarlets was described as a "rugby demonstration" by L'Equipe.

"The Irish advanced at every impact, systematically. In the game, they did what they wanted and showed an impressive collective strength. From the front (Healy, Fardy) to the backs (McFadden, Sexton), the Leinster seemed able to score anytime."

It was added that having already beaten defending champions Saracens in the quarter-final, a replication of Saturday's performance would likely win Leinster a fourth European title.

The front page of French rugby paper Midi Olympique

Watch: 'Bitterly Disappointed For The Lads' Classy Donnacha Ryan Humble In Victory

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