Both Fiona Hayes and Eddie O'Sullivan were very critical in their assessment of Johann Van Graan's era as head coach of Munster, in the wake of two of their worst defeat's during his tenure.
It was end of season deja vu for Munster once again this year. After a promising performance in their shoot-out loss to Toulouse in the Champions Cup, they backed it up with losses to a second/third string Leinster side, and were heavily beaten by Ulster last week.
When asked about Van Graan's years as Munster head coach on RTE's Rugby Podcast, former Ireland international and Munster player Fiona Hayes did not hold back in her opinion of the legacy left by the South African.
I don't think there is a legacy left, that's the issue. It's been pretty disappointing. Every year as a Munster fan you hope to win some sort of silverware, it hasn't happened, it's been a long time. But it's the style of play that people wanted to see improve, it did in areas.
After that Toulouse game up in Dublin, every Munster fan was on a huge positive and a huge high, you saw great heart, and that's what the last two games lacked in particular. Ulster were clinical but Munster were just not at the races at all, and to finish and to be knocked out of the cup for such a squad that has so much talent it's been disappointing. There's no legacy left, and I think it's now time for change.
The coaching staff going in have an opportunity to do that. I think we are a bit short in a couple of areas especially front-row, I'm thinking hooker and tighthead. But there's young guys coming through and it's about trying to get these guys up to the pace as quickly as possible, and start seeing a nice style of rugby and an exciting style of rugby, and that's what the fans want I think.
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🤨 What legacy has Johann van Graan left in Munster?https://t.co/7CxGqMYW5a
— RTÉ Rugby (@RTErugby) June 8, 2022
Ex-Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan did give praise to Van Graan for improving the Munster squad in certain areas, but was adamant that their pack was not good enough to succeed with their forward-centric game plan.
He did bring through some guys, a good stock of them from the academy, which was underperforming, so he has transitioned the squad. There are a couple of worrying areas in the front-row for sure, in terms of experience. But that aside, I think the bigger problem for Munster is that Munster, and this is my theory, in the noughties when they were king of the hill they had a phenomenal pack of forwards, they had all the guys, all household names.
What happened then was they stayed in that mode of 'we've got a great pack of forwards', and over the last ten years they haven't had a world-class pack of forwards. They've had good forwards and they've had good teams, but they're not in a position to beat teams through forwards oriented play. Now we saw it this year and I said it at the start of the season, Munster are very hard to stop if they get into your twenty-two. We saw it last week they got three tries up in Belfast despite the fact that they didn't play well, but they got into the Ulster twenty-two three or four times and got three tries. But if you keep them out of your twenty-two Munster are pretty gormless, they just keep going over and back. And they depend on penalties a lot of the time, their ball retention's good.