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URC Team by Team Review 2021/22

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 15 Jul 2021, 11:47 am

First topic message reminder :

As per the header here's my take so far on URC rugby on a team by team basis.  Granted not all teams have finished recruitment just yet but here is what we have so far.  Will update as further recruitment happens.

Leinster

In: Michael Milne promoted from Academy, David Hawkshaw promoted from Academy, Nick McCarthy from Munster,
Michael Ala'alatoa from Crusaders, Tom Clarkson promoted from Academy

Out: Michael Bent, Cian Kelleher, Greg McGrath, Hugh O'Sullivan, Rowan Osborne, Scott Fardy, Paddy Patterson, Sam Illo

Comments: Not much movement this season so far.  Ala'alatoa is the big addition at Tighthead.  Will be available for them all season and possibly is the long term replacement for Furlong who only signed for a 12 month contract and is probably leaving Ireland after that.

Predicted League Position: 1st.  Easy starting prediction.  The Champions have a quality squad throughout and that hasn't changed going into next season.  With the new format switching to 15 games and teams outside of Ireland only facing Leinster once (either home and away), I do expect it to be harder for them as teams will most probably start fielding full strength sides especially at home.  That said they are one of Europe's best for a reason.  I don't think anyone else really can oust them.

Munster

In: Jake Flannery promoted from Academy, James French promoted from Academy, Seán French promoted from Academy, Ben Healy promoted from Academy, John Hodnett promoted from Academy, Rowan Osborne from Leinster, Thomas Ahern promoted from Academy, Jack Crowley promoted from Academy, Jack Daly promoted from Academy, ason Jenkins from Toyota Verblitz, Josh Wycherley promoted from Academy, Simon Zebo from Racing 92,Paddy Patterson

Out: Nick McCarthy, Billy Holland, Alex Wootton, CJ Stander,  JJ Hanrahan, Tommy O'Donnell, Rhys Marshall, James Cronin

Comments: Lots of Academy promotions this season for Munster.  Notable signings are Zebo and Jenkins, both of which should feature heavily.  They do have some big names finishing however so Stander & Cronin probably offset the improvements from the signings.  Also some key older heads retiring as well who played key roles for Munster.  

Predicted League Position: 2nd.  I think Coombes will replace to void by Stander and with the bulk they have added in Jenkins will see them in a good spot during the winter months.  I think Thomond will still be a fortress for them although away wins next season will be harder to come by although that's the same for everyone.  Still a quality outfit.

Ulster

In: Aaron Sexton promoted from Academy, Nathan Doak promoted from Academy, Tom Stewart promoted from Academy, Ethan McIlroy promoted from Academy, Callum Reid promoted from Academy, David McCann promoted from Academy, Cormac Izuchukwu promoted from Academy,


Out: Hayden Hyde, Adam McBurney, Alby Mathewson, Kyle McCall, Matt Faddes, Bill Johnston

Comments: No incoming signings so far.  Outbound are only fringe players but the lack of additions at this point won't see them improve from last seasons outings unless some Academy players do manage to add to their squad.  

Predicted League Position: 5th.  So I know they finished last year on an overall table in second place and Ravenhill will still be a key factor to wining a lot of their games.  But a lot of this will be determined by how the fixture list falls.  I don't think this Ulster side will win as many away games as they did last year.  Main reason is with a reduced number of matches and only playing some of these sides once, I'd imagine a lot of teams will be fielding full strength sides.  It's going to be close though and I while I only have them ranked at 5th they could easily finish higher as they have had form on their side.

Connacht

In: Oran McNulty promoted from Academy, Cian Prendergast promoted from Academy, Dylan Tierney-Martin promoted from Academy, Alex Wootton from Munster, Mack Hansen from Brumbies, Leva Fifita from Grenoble, Shayne Bolton from Shimlas, Greg McGrath from Leinster, Sam Illo


Out: Quinn Roux, Stephen Fitzgerald, Seán O'Brien, Stephen Kerins, Conor Dean, Colm de Buitléar, Paddy McAllister, Cillian Gallagher, Conor Kenny, Seán O'Brien

Comments: Wootton isn't a new signing really as he was on loan with them last season.  Roux is a big loss for them.

Predicted League Position: 10th.  Ok based on last season this seems a totally unrealistic prediction but not without reasoning.  First major drawback for Connacht will be they will be playing Munster, Leinster and Ulster home and away.  They have it harder compared to some of the other sides who simply will have some weaker opposition.  Add into the fact Connacht will be coming up against some quality teams away from home outside of Ireland and wins could start getting hard to come by.  Looking at how other sides have recruited as well won't help Connacht.  I also expect every single team in the league to fight tooth and nail to get HC spots.  Something I think Connacht may miss out on next season.


Scarlets

In: WillGriff John from Sale Sharks, Carwyn Tuipulotu promoted from Academy, Morgan Jones promoted from Academy, Tomás Lezana from Western Force, Dom Booth promoted from Academy, Kemsley Mathias promoted from Academy, Iestyn Rees promoted from Academy, Scott Williams from Ospreys, Tom Price from Exeter

Out: Jake Ball, Werner Kruger, Jac Morgan, Uzair Cassiem, Osian Knott, Harri Doel, Paul Asquith, Dylan Evans, Will Homer, Ed Kennedy, Joseph Miles, Tom Phillips, Pieter Scholtz, Danny Drake

Comments: Some big players leaving Scarlets this year.  Ball and Cassiem don't look like they have been replaced with equal or better players.  On paper their starting 15 looks weaker.  Lezana is a bit of a unknown quantity and he may turn our to be brilliant or poor.  Hard to tell until we see him in action.  My main issue with them is they look light weight in the front 5 and that may not help things for them in the Winter period.

Prediction: 6th.  I think they will finish behind Ulster but they still have to much for around half of the league.  That said i suspect the may be displaced next season as the best welsh region, mainly due to the lack of forward fire power.  Still have one of the best back lines in the league though so will be dangerous regardless.

Ospreys

In: Tomas Francis from Exeter, Jac Morgan from Scarlets, Ben Warren from Cardiff, Osian Knott from Scarlets, Michael Collins from Highlanders, Jack Regan from Highlanders,
Elvis Taione from Exeter, Alex Cuthbert from Exeter

Out: Guido Volpi, Cory Allen, Ben Cambriani, Rhys Davies, Gareth Evans, Garyn Lloyd, Bradley Roderick, Rhys Thomas, Jordan Walters, Caine Woolerton, Luke Price, Scott Williams, Shaun Venter, Jordan Lay, Nicky Thomas

Comments: No major losses for the Ospreys as Allen and Williams never really worked out for them.  They were on big salaries too so Booth has clearly free'd up budget by releasing some under performers.  Francis heads the major signing columns but Cuthbert & Morgan are both major coups for the region.

Prediction: 3rd.  On paper at least the front 8 look like they can hold their own.  The major reason for the improvement and why I think they will be the top region is Booth.  He has clearly been the right man for the job.  He has strengthened his squad in the right areas and the Ospreys look like will have a fairly potent backline.  But Francis has been key for them.  At home I don't see many teams beating them (maybe Leinster or Munster at a push).  Aside from that they will also be helped with the fact unlike the Irish they will have to play the Scarlets, Blues & Dragons which will more than likely result in more points gained from those encounters than any of the Irish provinces will be able to bank on.  


Cardiff

In: Immanuel Feyi-Waboso promoted from Academy, Rhys Priestland from Bath, Matthew Screech from Dragons,

Out: Ben Warren, Ioan Davies, Ethan Lewis, Ioan Rhys Davies, Cory Hill (unconfirmed)

Comments: Hill will be a big loss although its not officially been announced yet (heading to Japan) but Screech had a great season last year with the Dragons.  I still don't think they have gained if at all in this area.  Priestland is not an inspiring signing has his best rugby is behind him.  Will play a back up roll to Jarrod for sure.  Not other major signings which leaves the squad similar to last year.

Prediction: 8th.  I think they will finish above Connacht but only just.  The new signings and outgoings haven't made me think they will be able to compete with the Scarlets or Ospreys.  I think form has made me place them at 8th but in all honesty as a Dragons fan they may have problems against us and it's not totally inconceivable that they finish bottom of the Welsh Regions.  Granted for that to happen Dragons would have to play the season of their lives so I'll stick with my 8th place prediction.

Dragons:

In: Will Rowlands from Wasps, Evan Lloyd promoted from Academy, Mesake Doge, Aki Seiuli

Out: Lewis Evans, Matthew Screech, Arwel Robson, Connor Edwards, Ed Scragg, Carwyn Penny, Luke Baldwin, Joe Goodchild, Brok Harris, Rhys Lawrence, Deon Smith,  Dafydd Howells, Ryan Bevington, Tom Griffiths to Coventry (season-long loan),

Comments: Screech was playing well last season but I think Rowlands will be a great signing and a improvement on what we have.  Harris was key for us as well last term but Ryan hasn't finished recruitment yet so potentially will see me adding to this list at a later date.

Prediction: 12th.  I'd love to see us be further up the table and maybe depending on our home form this would be possible.  That said I think the top teams have all recruited and improved as well so it's hard to place us higher.  So I think we may still be 4th placed welsh region unless Ryan really pulls of some more great signings.  Given our budget compared to the other welsh regions though the odds are stacked against us.

Glasgow

In: Duncan Weir from Worcester, Jamie Bhatti from Bath, Ross Thompson promoted from Academy, Simon Berghan from Edinburgh, Lewis Bean from Northampton, Jack Dempsey from NSW Waratahs, Josh McKay from Crusaders, Ollie Smith promoted from Academy, Sione Tuipulotu from Yamaha Júbilo, Ally Miller from Edinburgh, Domingo Miotti from Western Force, Sebastián Cancelliere from Jaguares XV, Tom Lambert promoted from Academy

Out: Adam Hastings, Chris Fusaro, Fotu Lokotui, Nikola Matawalu, D'Arcy Rae, Mesu Dolokoto, Dylan Evans, TJ Ioane, Lee Jones, Ian Keatley, Paddy Kelly, Robbie Nairn, Aki Seiuli, George Thornton, Leone Nakarawa, Huw Jones, Alex Allan

Comments: Lots of movement going on from Glasgow for next season.  Hastings will be a loss to them but they have recruited well at 10 edging their bets on bringing both Weir and Miotti into the side.  Nakarawa and Matawalu never really came back at their second stints and played at the same level as the first time at Glasgow.  So probably was wise to cut them.  Some of the signings are unknown as of yet so will be interesting to see how Tuipulotu goes for them as a replacement for Huw Jones.  That said Dempsey is a quality signing and they have added serious bulk to their pack as well.

Prediction: 4th.  Major advantage over every other nation with playing the Italians twice.  I also think they will be the top of the Scottish sides.  All round though just looking at their recruitment, they will be a major threat I think.  Not enough to worry Leinster or Munster but everyone else in the league for sure. I'd be very surprised at this stage if they didn't end up in the top 4.

Edinburgh

In: James Lang from Harlequins, Glen Young from Harlequins, Ben Vellacott from Wasps, Luan de Bruin from Leicester, Adam McBurney from Ulster, Pierce Phillips from Agen, Henry Immelman from Montpellier, Cameron Hutchison from Heriot's, Ben Muncaster promoted from Acedamy, Nathan Chamberlain promoted from Academy, Emiliano Boffelli, Ramiro Moyano

Out: Duhan van der Merwe, Andrew Davidson, Simon Berghan, Ally Miller, Mike Willemse, Jamie Farndale, Murray McCallum, Dan Nutton, Eroni Sau, Lewis Carmichael, Rory Sutherland, Kyle Rowe, Andries Ferreira, Charlie Jupp, Scott King, Shaun Gunn Jack Mann

Comments:  van der Merwe and Rory Sutherland are big losses for Edinburgh.  Signings look a bit underwhelming although Immelman could be a good addition.  Cockerill has managed to make Edinburgh play above their ability in the past though so I don't expect them to be a roll over for any side as they tend to graft hard and the forwards will supply them with ball.  

Prediction: 9th.  I can't see them placing above most of the others in this list.  I still have them better than the Dragons and Connacht thought as they do have an advantage with 2 Italian sides in their pool so that is a major plus for them.  But the top 8 sides i'm predicting simply have better players which can't be understated. With Cockerill leaving and Mike Blair coming in things have changed...I'm not convinced that they can finish 9th.  They have picked up some good Argentinian backs but I fear Blair may be a little inexperienced at this level.

I'll post the second half of teams as a follow up post....


Last edited by Welshmushroom on Fri 27 Aug 2021, 12:46 pm; edited 9 times in total

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Post by No 7&1/2 Fri 01 Oct 2021, 2:14 pm

Not lying, don't do your twitter routine Phil. Not my point either, it was from Brendan, just wanted you to answer it, pity you can't. And on that I am out.

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Post by PhilBB Fri 01 Oct 2021, 2:21 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Not lying, don't do your twitter routine Phil. Not my point either, it was from Brendan, just wanted you to answer it, pity you can't. And on that I am out.

You've lied again because I've answered Brendan's point multiple times. Firstly to him and subsequently to you.

Obviously you don't like the answer as it brings up how wrong you've been on this topic before, but trying to save face by tripling down on things isn't a good look for you.
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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 07 Oct 2021, 12:51 pm

With Round 3 just round the corner looks like some good matches this weekend.

Ospreys vs Sharks could be a good one.

Ulster vs Benetton looks another interesting one to me. I think Ulster have to much at home but this one will be a good test for Benetton.

But for me the pick of the fixtures is Scarlets vs Munster. This is a must win game for Scarlets. Munster can probably afford a loss here so the pressure will be off them completely. Scarlets have Leinster away next so a loss here could start making it hard to catch some of the other welsh regions let alone breaking into the last 8 of the URC.


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Post by LordDowlais Thu 07 Oct 2021, 12:56 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:Ospreys vs Sharks could be a good one.

I'm looking forward to this one as well, I will be very interested to see how Ansombe does again this week.

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Post by Welshmushroom Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:15 pm

I just hope Pivac leaves him out of the AI's. I don't think he has played enough to start throwing him against the All Blacks.


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Post by PhilBB Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:16 pm

Welshmushroom wrote:I just hope Pivac leaves him out of the AI's.  I don't think he has played enough to start throwing him against the All Blacks.


He'll have to at least be on the bench behind Priestland as nobody else worthy is going to be fit and / or available.
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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:32 pm

I think Anscombe has been doing well so far. Not sure about Priestland though, he wouldn't make my squad.

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Post by PhilBB Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:34 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:I think Anscombe has been doing well so far. Not sure about Priestland though, he wouldn't make my squad.

Who are the two 10s for you in the 23 in 23 days' time?
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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:40 pm

Anscombe and Costelow. Patchell to be back up if he's available. Anyone but Priestland who's a fail. I don't think Sam Davies is at the required level but I rate him over RP. Pivac might pick RP anyway, as that's how he operates.

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Post by PhilBB Thu 07 Oct 2021, 1:42 pm

mikey_dragon wrote:Anscombe and Costelow. Patchell to be back up if he's available. Anyone but Priestland who's a fail. I don't think Sam Davies is at the required level but I rate him over RP. Pivac might pick RP anyway, as that's how he operates.

Costelow? That's a big call.

I guess you've not seen much of Priestland at Bath if you think he is 'a fail', but there we go. Interesting valuation of Davies, too.

I'll be interested to see what Priestland will do this weekend as I wasn't particularly impressed with him at the Os.
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Post by mikey_dragon Thu 07 Oct 2021, 2:37 pm

I know but I think Costelow is a very talented player that does everything well, and now that he is finally starting he's been showing it, although there hasn't been a lot of rugby played yet.

Yeah I have seen much of RP at Bath as I used to watch more Premiership Rugby than Pro whatever. I was referring to him in an international jersey BTW, he will be decent enough for Cardiff. I believe you did ask for 'my' view, so I gave it.

Likewise, I will be interested to see that.

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Post by Brendan Thu 07 Oct 2021, 4:45 pm

PhilBB wrote:
Brendan wrote:

Does Dai not want to play running rugby.  How does his running rugby differ from what they have played the last few years.

Cardiff can spend as much as Scarlets so that is a problem Cardiff still have of their own making as to why they don't have a good squad.

Young's rugby has always been based on a quick 'play the ball' as he learned in league. That was the basis of the success he had at the club 2009 and 2010. Mulvhill played a much less speedier version from the breakdown, certainly more marching rugby.

Cardiff can't spend as much as the Scarlets under the terms of the existing contract with the WRU where significant financial losses through salary spend are restricted.

With all due respect, Brendan, there are those closer to Welsh rugby than are you, so are better placed to comment.

So the three private Regions can all spend the same amount on wages
Scarlets (and I assume Ospreys) spend more than Cardiff on wages.
WRU give each region 80% of the wages of certain players in their squad to spend on what they want.
Blues therefore choose to spend less on wages than the other two Regions and that is why they are never the best Region because their squad is weaker.

Few other Welsh posters disagree the WRU top up is for wages, and even the CEO of Scarlets say that they have a better squad because the WRU are paying them more for their key players.

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Post by PhilBB Fri 08 Oct 2021, 9:21 am

Brendan wrote:

So the three private Regions can all spend the same amount on wages
Scarlets (and I assume Ospreys) spend more than Cardiff on wages.
WRU give each region 80% of the wages of certain players in their squad to spend on what they want.
Blues therefore choose to spend less on wages than the other two Regions and that is why they are never the best Region because their squad is weaker.

Few other Welsh posters disagree the WRU top up is for wages,  and even the CEO of Scarlets say that they have a better squad because the WRU are paying them more for their key players.

Ok, let's go through this again for the nth time.

The WRU is supposed to make a payment for services provided on a joint revenue share basis. Hence, when Covid struck, the WRU paid only £2.5m - a tenth of the budgeted payment. Instead, it diverted money into a hotel. Nice, eh?

From that payment, a chunk is to be used for the wages of the top 38 Welsh based players. The more of those the club employs, the higher that club's share of that chunk of money. Remembering, of course, that money didn't exist at all last season.

Also as part of the contract that followed the misnamed "Project Reset", each independent club is discouraged from making financial losses. This means they can't "spend what they like on wages". Think of it like the French set up. That's the closest analogy.

So, all in all, it's a complete mess. Naturally, as it has the hand of the WRU all over it and they are a bunch of incompetent shysters.
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Post by Intotouch Sun 10 Oct 2021, 8:46 pm

So how do people think their teams are looking 3 games in?

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Post by Pot Hale Sun 10 Oct 2021, 9:12 pm

Munster seconds/thirds marmalised Scarlets. They're looking pretty good shape although they may have lost RG Snyman for a long injury period again. The private sponsor who funded his salary must be crying in their soup.

Leinster have been ok - nothing special.
Ulster ditto.
Glasgow looking a bit more lively but tougher opposition to come.
Benetton are looking more of a handful for a good few teams.
Zebre are mince.
SA teams are improving slowly and no doubt will benefit with Boks back in their ranks.
Dragons did well against Connacht away.
Scarlets, Cardiff and Ospreys - meh.
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Post by Brendan Mon 11 Oct 2021, 10:39 pm

The 3 big Irish teams still look the ones to beat. The big question for me is does Sharks spoil the party which I think they will once their 13 players return and they start picking up TBPs and key wins.

Next group of teams for me is Bulls & Glasgow. Good at what they do but not quite there. Bulls seem slow to adapt while Glasgow still look like they can be bullied.

After that it's anyone's guess.

Edinburgh and Benetton are solid and but for a bit of luck could have been winless (I know one of them had to win their game). They will put up a good fight and are in with a shout of 7th & 8th.

Scarlets and Cardiff have looked poor against the physical teams while Ospreys seem to have very little running and struggle to get many points. Dragon have impressed me most of the Welsh but seemed to lack belief they could actually win. Winning in Ireland may unleash them but needs to get the win this weekend to get more belief.

Connacht have been inconsistent and look like a mid table team that are as likely to win as lose.

Stormers and Lions have shown promise but have looked suspect in defence. Will give teams problems and are clearly better than they thought they would be.

Zebre are the only team who look like they know where they are finishing. Will fight to the end and try their best but picking up 3 wins could be a good return.

Everyone else have a good shot at making the playoffs and we will see alot of moves up and down the table as seen by Dragons who now sit in a playoff spot.

Lions Connacht and Scarlets are the next set of teams looking to be the team that lands a punch on the leaders. Following week will be Connacht, Glasgow and Ospreys but I think Nov 27 could be the key date with Leinster v Ulster. and Bulls v Munster.

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Post by Old Man Mon 11 Oct 2021, 11:36 pm

I think round six and seven which would have been home matches for the SA sides will make it much tougher for them to earn home Quarter finals or Semi finals.

Round Six
Bulls vs Munster
Sharks vs Scarletts
Lions vs Cardiff

Round seven
Bulls vs Scarletts
Lions vs Munster
Stormers vs Cardiff

Essentially Cardiff, Scarletts and Munster are the beneficiaries of two matches that will now be played on neutral turf, so if we argue you need to win all your home matches then those three teams get quite a leg up and the SA teams will be hampered by that.

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Post by Brendan Tue 12 Oct 2021, 8:05 am

Old Man wrote:I think round six and seven which would have been home matches for the SA sides will make it much tougher for them to earn home Quarter finals or Semi finals.

Round Six
Bulls vs Munster
Sharks vs Scarletts
Lions vs Cardiff

Round seven
Bulls vs Scarletts
Lions vs Munster
Stormers vs Cardiff

Essentially Cardiff, Scarletts and Munster are the beneficiaries of two matches that will now be played on neutral turf, so if we argue you need to win all your home matches then those three teams get quite a leg up and the SA teams will be hampered by that.

Apart from Munster the other two teams shouldn't be much of a problem as they will be missing most of their top players and aren't amazing travellers.

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Post by Old Man Tue 12 Oct 2021, 8:40 am

Brendan wrote:
Old Man wrote:I think round six and seven which would have been home matches for the SA sides will make it much tougher for them to earn home Quarter finals or Semi finals.

Round Six
Bulls vs Munster
Sharks vs Scarletts
Lions vs Cardiff

Round seven
Bulls vs Scarletts
Lions vs Munster
Stormers vs Cardiff

Essentially Cardiff, Scarletts and Munster are the beneficiaries of two matches that will now be played on neutral turf, so if we argue you need to win all your home matches then those three teams get quite a leg up and the SA teams will be hampered by that.

Apart from Munster the other two teams shouldn't be much of a problem as they will be missing most of their top players and aren't amazing travellers.
Lets hope you are right.

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Post by Brendan Tue 12 Oct 2021, 11:32 am

To be fair half the Munster squad were looking forward to the trip home.

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