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The International Media Reaction To The End Of Munster's Champions Cup Dream

The International Media Reaction To The End Of Munster's Champions Cup Dream
By Gavin Cooney Updated
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Munster's incredible Champions Cup odyssey ran out of room yesterday afternoon, as champions Saracens proved too strong for the depleted Irish province. After the game, while Rassie Erasmus admitted that the 26-10 reversal was a "hiding", he stressed how far Munster had come, and looked to the future. The Munster squad echoed these thoughts with an on-field debrief after the game, with Simon Zebo telling the media that "we know that there is a bright future with this squad and we said on the pitch afterwards that we were not going to let this be the full stop, but that we're really going to drive on as a collective and make sure our future is bright".

That's the Munster reaction to defeat, so now let's take a look at the international media reaction to Munster, and the dying of their Champions Cup dream.

England

The English papers are naturally filled with admiration for Saracens, with Robert Kitson of the Observer hailing their fortitude in proving it is possible for an English side to win in Dublin in spite of their far-from-cavalier performance:

If it was a far cry from the majestic play that put Clermont to the sword 46-6 in a semi-final at Twickenham three years ago, no one connected with English rugby will be complaining. Given what has happened recently to the national team and Wasps on this same stretch of grass, this was belated proof it is possible to win big games across the Irish Sea.

That kind of mental fortitude will make Sarries favourites to retain their European crown regardless of their opponents in next month’s Murrayfield final. No one has beaten them in Europe for two years and they are developing a voracious taste for silverware.

There is some criticism of Munster across the papers, including this from Stephen Jones of The Sunday Times: 

Frankly, Munster were exposed, the task facing them is to absorb all that passion and pressure, to suck up all the crowd noise to see what Munster have underneath. Yesterday, they had the wonderful Simon Zebo, who was unbelievably good at full-back, but very little else. They had no variation, no spark and no attacking edge, and nothing was helped by the desperate shortcomings of Tyler Blyendaal at fly-half.

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Denis Walsh of the same paper pointed to the absence of Conor Murray as critical:

Munster's game plan lacked variety and probably for the first time since his injury they really missed Conor Murray's leadership and experience. In his first full season at ten Tyler Blyendaal had grown into the jersey and feasted on the responsibility but yesterday he was ineffective and error-ridden; he needed Murray to be the senior partner.

The Telegraph paid tribute to the Munster journey after the death of Anthony Foley, but admitted that they were well beaten on the day:

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Munster have been on an incredible emotional journey since the tragic death of the head coach Anthony Foley last October – this was just their third defeat in 23 games since his passing.

But while their commitment and intent could not be faulted, the Irish province lacked both the control at fly-half and attacking width, and while Saracens were rattled on several occasions they never appeared close to reaching their breaking point.

South Africa 

Sport24 of Rassie Erasmus' homeland focused on Niall Scannell's post-game comments stating that Erasmus will be staying on with Munster, understandable given the reports linking Erasmus with the Springbok job:

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It's brilliant that he's staying around. It's brilliant for our club and it's brilliant for Irish rugby. The confidence it's given us, it's something I haven't had from a coach before.

"He comes into the changing room afterwards saying: 'look, they're further along their curve and they were the better team today'. You trust him and you believe that we will evolve and we will get there and that's hugely reassuring that he's staying around."

Speculation has been rife in recent weeks that Erasmus would be tempted to return to South Africa in some capacity with the Springboks, but the Munster hooker confirmed that the Director of Rugby would remain in Ireland and that he was committed to seeing out his three-year contract with the province.

New Zealand

The New Zealand Herald and Stuff.co.nz hooked their reports on the performances of the respective Lions involved and flagged the struggles of the Munster scrum.

The Irish province started at a ferocious pace in front of a sea of Munster red, pinning Saracens back on their line with a couple of big scrums and their pressure was rewarded with three points from former Crusaders five-eighth Tyler Bleyendaal. But last year's winner's quickly showed why they had not been beaten in their previous 16 Champions Cup games....

...Instead it was Saracens, in a semi-final for the fifth year in a row, who added to the scoreboard while Wray was in the sin bin with Farrell coolly slotting over a penalty after his pack, boasting five players named in the British and Irish Lions squad last week, made the Munster scrum buckle.

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British and Irish Lions stars Mako Vunipola and Owen Farrell played pivotal roles as English champions Saracens advanced to another European Champions Cup final.

Saracens, the England and European titleholders, were too strong for Irish province Munster, winning 26-10 in Dublin on Sunday (NZT).

Vunipola, the England loosehead prop, was part of an excellent Saracens scrum which had Munster on the back foot in the critical set piece.

See Also: This Munster Side Now Has Its 'Northampton 2000', And Christ Knows They'll Be Back

 

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