Friday, April 29, 2016

This weekend... wins for Munster, Leinster and Connacht!

 Rassie Erasmus (picture

It’s a big weekend for the PRO 12, and none bigger than Munster v Edinburgh at a sold out Thomond Park tonight. Munster have to win their last two matches to make the Champions Cup next year – well probably mathematically they could win one, and then rely on results going their way, but it’s in their hands. Munster have been a bit all over the place this season, some good moments, some good young new players, some bad luck with injuries, but overall just really uneven. At home, with a full stadium, I’m expecting them to put Edinburgh away.

The big news this week in Munster was the appointment of Rassie Erasmus as the new Director of Rugby. Rassie was a magnificent player, and is known for his innovative coaching. When at the Cheetahs, he used to sit at the top of the standards with a coloured paddles to signal to the team. Whether he was signalling ‘Take it up, don’t go wide’ or ‘ No 10, get your s*&t together or I’ll bliksem you at half time’ isn’t clear. But great to have someone who’s thinking about new approaches all the time. I think he’ll add a lot to the team, in managing and coaching, and as a person, he’s a down to earth guy, really sound. It does leave Anthony Foley increasingly isolated though doesn’t it?
Connacht should get their 5 points in Italy.

Then on Saturday it’s Leinster travelling to take on Ulster in Belfast. Ulster need the win to stay in the top four, while Leinster have Glasgow steaming up the table, and they won’t want to be overtaken at this time of the season. Neither team is in exactly sparkling form right now – not playing badly, but not setting the worlds alight with commanding performances either. It’s pretty evenly matched, Ulster have home advantage, while Leinster nudge ahead in the pack and in the organisation of their defence. I think Leinster will sneak it…

Friday, April 29   
Benetton Treviso v    Connacht     6:30 PM
Glasgow Warriors v    Zebre     7:35 PM
Munster v    Edinburgh     7:35 PM
Saturday, April 30   
Cardiff Blues v    Ospreys     2:30 PM
Ulster v    Leinster     3:00 PM
Dragons v    Scarlets     5:00 PM

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