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Munster Rugby
Munster rugby badge.png
Nickname(s) The Red Army
Founded 1879
Location Munster, Ireland
Ground(s) Thomond Park
Capacity 27,000
Coach(es) Australia Tony McGahan[1]
Captain(s) Paul O'Connell
Most appearances Anthony Foley (202)
Top scorer Ronan O'Gara (3,725)
Most tries Anthony Horgan (41)
League(s) Magners League
2008-09 1st
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Munster Rugby (more commonly known as Munster) is an Irish professional rugby union club based in Munster, that competes in the Magners League and Heineken Cup. The team represents the Irish Rugby Football Union Munster Branch which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU, and is responsible for rugby union in the Irish province of Munster. Their main home ground is Thomond Park, Limerick, though some smaller profile games are played at Musgrave Park, Cork. Munster currently play in an all red home strip, while the away jersey is navy. The Munster Rugby logo consists of three crowns and a stag. The team motto is "To the brave and faithful, nothing is impossible"; it is derived from the motto of the MacCarthy clan - "Forti et Fideli nihil difficile".

Munster is known for its passionate support and game day atmosphere (the noise during play and complete silence which used to be observed during an attempt to kick a goal). Games involving Munster hold several Heineken Cup records for highest attendances in every stage of the finals, as well as the highest ever attendance for a rugby game in both Spain and Switzerland. The ERC's European ranking system has placed Munster as the Number 1 team in Europe based on its performance in the last four seasons.

In 2008, Director of Coaching Declan Kidney left to take up the head coach job with Ireland, and Munster ensured continuity by promoting Australian Tony McGahan to the position from within the coaching setup.



Munster has a great tradition of competitiveness and empassioned displays against touring sides. The first touring side to play Munster were the famous "Original" All Blacks led by Dave Gallagher, who lined out against Munster in the Markets Field, Limerick in November, 1905. Munster were defeated that day 33-0. Throughout the years Munster were to record a number of near-misses and last minute defeats to the Springboks, Wallabies and the All Blacks. The first tangible result against a touring side was to come in 1958 when the Wallabies were held to a 3-3 draw in Thomond Park.


First victory over a touring side

Munster was the first Irish Provincial side to defeat a major touring team when they defeated Australia 11-8 in Musgrave Park, Cork on the 25th of January 1967. Munster were captained that day by Tom Kiernan.

Against the All Blacks

Munster drew with New Zealand 3-3 in 1973 and then in 1978 became the only Irish side to have beaten the All Blacks. The 12-0 victory occurred on Tuesday 31 October 1978 at Thomond Park, in front of a crowd of 12,000.[2] Christy Cantillon scored a try with Tony Ward converting. Ward also added a dropped goal in each half. The game remains the only time an All Blacks team lost to any Irish side, and now forms part of Munster rugby mythology. A stage play named Alone it Stands (by John Breen), and a book named Stand Up and Fight: When Munster Beat the All Blacks by Alan English were both based on the events. Both have been commercially successful.[3]

The All Blacks returned to Thomond Park in November 2008 - to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the previous test, and to celebrate the opening of the new stadium.[4]. After 76 minutes of the match Munster were winning 16-13. However a late try by Joe Rokocoko meant the All Blacks won 18-16.[5]

Early 1990s

In 1992, Australia, reigning world champions, having won the 1991 Rugby World Cup, visited Munster as part of a European Tour. Munster won 22-19 in a rough encounter in Cork. Ten years later, London newspaper The Daily Telegraph recounted part of the legend in a feature on Munster prop Peter Clohessy: "The then Wallabies coach, Bob Dwyer, who was not a man who readily accepted that opposition sides could legitimately score more points than his team, immediately branded the Munster Number 3 a "disgrace". It had been a typically rugged, robust and memorable Munster triumph, with leather and fists flying on both sides. Clohessy who wouldn't generally be known for misconduct was no more guilty than the next man but world champions are not supposed to lose against a hastily assembled Irish provincial XV. There had to be a reason, an excuse, and Dwyer rounded on Clohessy".[6]

Late 1990s and early 2000s

They reached the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in 1998/99, after three years of not being able to get out of the group stages. This led them to their first appearance in the competition's final in 1999/00, where they lost by one point to Northampton at Twickenham. Nevertheless, that season was most memorable with a fantastic win over Toulouse 25-31 in Bordeaux. Their good form and bad luck continued in the following year (2000/01) with a semi-final defeat to Stade Français, again by one point. In 2001/02 Munster lost the last match of their pool in Castres, but qualified as best runners-up. Munster beat Stade Français 16-14 in Paris. The only try of the game coming from Anthony Horgan. It was then on to Béziers to meet Castres for the semi-final. Munster were triumphant and went to the final at Millennium Stadium to meet the reigning champions, Leicester. Munster lost a tight game remembered as 'the hand of Back' final as a Leicester flanker used his hand illegally in a scrum when Munster had a last-chance attack.

In 2002/03, they reached the quarter-finals after a win against Gloucester, later issued on DVD under the title "The Miracle Match". In this game, Munster needed to win by a margin of at least 27 points and score a minimum of four tries to earn a quarter-final berth. They won 33-6 with four tries in a game that has become part of Munster rugby folklore. They again faced Leicester, this time at the Tigers' home of Welford Road, and defeated the reigning champions to progress to the semi-finals. They faced Toulouse in the semi-finals and lost out on a place in the final after losing by a single point in France.

In 2003/04 it was more of the same. After an assured performance in the Pool stage they defeated Stade Français at Thomond Park to set up a semi-final date with English champions Wasps. This was considered one of the best Heineken Cup matches of all time. Although leading by 10 points in the second half, having already lost Ronan O'Gara to injury early on, they succumbed to 2 Wasps tries in injury time resulting in a Wasps v Toulouse final. In 2004/05, after a shaky performance in the Pool stage, they qualified as 5th seeds and played Biarritz away. The match was played at Real Sociedad's ground, the Anoeta Stadium, in San Sebastián in Spain — the first Heineken Cup game ever played in Spain. Biarritz won 19-10 to avenge a 38-29 defeat at the same stage in 2001.

2005-06 to present

Inside the Millennium Stadium for the 2006 final where over 65,000 Munster fans were present.

In 2005/06, in order to qualify from the pool stage, they needed to beat Sale Sharks at Thomond Park. Unlikely though it seemed, to win the pool they needed to score four tries and avoid giving Sale a bonus point. This they did in some style, scoring a try in injury time, by David Wallace to win the match 31-9 and reach the quarter-finals. To add to the drama, the team qualified for a home quarter-final thanks to Leinster beating Bath the following day. This was achieved not just by Leinster winning the away fixture, but by their denying the home side a bonus point as well. Their quarter-final was played at Lansdowne Road in Dublin against Perpignan. Munster eventually won the game 19-10 to set up a semi-final against rivals Leinster, which they won convincingly, 30-6.

They would return to the Millennium Stadium for the final against Biarritz which they won 23-19 to become European champions for the first time. Tries from Trevor Halstead & Peter Stringer along with 13 points from Ronan O'Gara kicks made up the Munster total. Alan English, author of Stand Up and Fight: When Munster Beat the All Blacks was commissioned to write an official account of the 2005/06 European campaign, entitled Our Road To Glory, with photographs by Billy Stickland. The book, a compilation of the players thoughts and feelings before and after the final, was launched to coincide with the 2006/07 campaign.

In the 2006/07 Heineken Cup, they started their campaign with a victory over Leicester at Welford Road from a Ronan O'Gara penalty from his own half. Munster continued the group stage undefeated until they met Leicester Tigers again, this time at Thomond Park. Munster, previously undefeated at "Fortress Thomond Park" in Heineken Cup play, ended up losing the game 6-13, but still clinched a quarterfinal berth as one of the two top second-place teams.

In August 2007, Munster sent a team, minus its international players, to the USA to play the US Eagles in a 2007 World Cup warm up game, Munster winning the tie 10-6 with Anthony Horgan scoring the only try of the match. Munster clinched arguably the most audacious signing in the province's history on 30 August 2007, when Doug Howlett, who succeeded Christian Cullen, himself a Munster signing, as all-time leading try scorer for New Zealand during the 2007 World Cup, agreed to join on a two and a half year contract.

The Heineken Cup campaign for 2007/08 began on a losing note, with a 24-23 defeat to London Wasps at Coventry City FC's Ricoh Arena. A home win against a weakened Clermont Auvergne side followed. Munster gained revenge for last season's quarter final exit at the hands of Welsh side Scarlets with a victory over the Welsh side at a rain-sodden Stradey Park and a second win at Thomond Park. A bonus point 26-19 loss to Clermont kept Munster in the hunt for qualification for the knockout stages. A win over Wasps at a wet and windy Thomond secured top spot in the "Pool of Death" for Munster and they booked a quarter-final berth against Gloucester at Kingsholm, which was duly won 16-3. The semi-final saw Munster beat Saracens 18-16 at Ricoh Arena and in the final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium they defeated Toulouse 16-13 to claim their second Heineken Cup title in 3 years. Denis Leamy's first half try along with 11 points from the boot of O'Gara accounted for the scores.

Munster started the 08/09 season impressively winning their first nine games (2 friendlies and 7 competitive matches). Finding themselves in the "Pool of Death" yet again Munster were forced to fight to reach the Henieken Cup quarter-finals. A nervous last-minute victory over Montauban at Thomond Park and a disappointing loss away to Clermont appeared to indicate that they would be unsuccessful. Two victories against Sale and a return victory against Clermont at Thomond Park meant that Munster qualified for the knock-out stages yet again and actually with a match to spare. A dominant performance away to Montauban in a match delayed by a day due to storm-force winds ensured a home tie in the quarter-finals. There, the opponent would be Welsh-outfit Ospreys. A brace of tries from Keith Earls and a man-of-the-match performance by Paul Warwick resulted in a win. [7] On 2 May 2009 Croke Park was the venue for the Heineken Cup European Rugby Semi final between Leinster and Munster. The attendance of 82,208 is a new world record attendance for a club rugby game. Munster lost to Leinster 6 - 25. On 15 May 2009 they were presented with the Magners League trophy after a 36 - 10 win over the Ospreys in Thomond Park. Federico Pucciariello, John O'Sullivan, Mike Prendergast, Kieran Lewis, Frankie Sheahan and Anthony Horgan all made their last appearance in this game. It was also the final time that Munster centre Rua Tipoki would be present as a Munster player. He had announced a number of weeks before the match that a recurring hamstring injury was to be responsible for forcing him out of the game and he returned to his native New Zealand at the seasons end. [8]

Munster started the 2009–10 Heineken Cup campaign against Northampton Saints on 10 October, 2009.[9] They went into the game on the back of a 30-point loss to Leinster in the Magners league,[10] and ended up losing the game 31-27.[11] Their next match was against Treviso at Thomond Park on 17 October, 2009. They went 0-10 down in the first half before recovering with 7 tries to win by 41-10. Next it was a home tie against Perpignan. The boot of Ronan O'Gara gave Munster the win in a closely fought game, the final score being 24-23. In the return fixture in France, Munster put in an excellent performance to win 14-37, with a late try from Doug Howlett giving them a bonus point. Back in Limerick for the Treviso match, Munster again got a bonus point win in a 44-7 victory over the Italian side. In the final pool game, Munster beat Northampton 12-9 in an incredibly close game which was dominated by the forwards. The win meant that Munster qualified for the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals for a record 12th consecutive year, and secured a home tie against pool rivals Northampton. [12]

The 'three crowns' emblem used by Munster alludes to the three constituent historic kingdoms of Munster; Thomond in the north, Desmond in the south, and Ormonde in the east. A revamped logo was introduced for the 2003-04 season which included the addition of a stag with the three crowns.[13] The crest was designed to maintain the three crowns, and the new red stag symbolizes strength and competitiveness.[13] The decision for change was a product of two years of planning of research and design.[13] Elements of navy were also introduced into mainly red Munster jersey. The current kit consists of a red shirt with yellow and white trimming, red shorts and red socks. The kit is made by Adidas, who replaced Canterbury of New Zealand, in a deal covering kit supply for three seasons. The name of Munster's current title sponsors, Toyota appears on their shirt. The words "wear with pride and honesty" appear on the collar of the 2009/10 shirt. The Counties in munster are also listed on the bottom piping of the jersey.

Home grounds

Munster have two main stadia where they play their home matches - Thomond Park in Limerick and Musgrave Park in Cork. Thomond Park is the bigger of the two, with a capacity of around 27,000, while Musgrave holds 8,300. As well as Munster, Shannon RFC and UL Bohemian RFC play at the grounds of Thomond Park. Thomond Park is famous for its atmosphere and unique history[14] - its noise during play and complete silence when a player (home and away) is kicking at goal. It is also famous for Munster's intimidating record that it held for over a decade - having never been beaten at home during the Heineken Cup.[15] However the record was broken during the 2006-07 season when they were defeated by the Leicester Tigers.[15] Munster train in the University of Limerick.

Thomond Park went through a major renovation in 1999, and in 2006, Munster announced plans to upgrade it. In autumn 2008 the new 27,000 capacity stadium was opened. Two sweeping arches are one of the defining features of the stadium as well as the concourse outside of the new East Stand.[16] A long discussion and consultation on the new name concluded with the decision that the name would remain Thomond Park.[17]


Thousands of fans watch the 2006 Heineken Cup final in Limerick.

The strength of Munster's support was demonstrated during Munster's 2006 and 2008 Heineken Cup final wins. News reports detailed the lengths some fans were willing to go to secure tickets to the game. Some Munster fans travelled to Biarritz to buy up the French allocation of tickets.[18] On the day of the game the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was filled with a capacity crowd of 74,500. Of those numbers it is estimated that in excess of 55-65,000 were Munster fans[19] with the remainder being neutrals and Biarritz supporters. The Millennium Stadium was intended to be a neutral venue but commentators on the day remarked that it could hardly be counted as such. In North America there is an official supporters club called Munster Rugby USA.[20]

Munster have played in the most-attended quarter-final and semi-final matches of the Heineken Cup:

Munster's appearance in the 2002 final against Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium, which drew 74,600, was the record attendance for a Heineken Cup final[23] until the 2007 final between Leicester and London Wasps at the newly expanded Twickenham, although it is estimated that as many as 10,000 Munster fans attended this game, having bought tickets before Munster were knocked out of the competition. Munster's 2005 quarter-final against Biarritz Olympique in Estadio Anoeta, played as it was across the border in San Sebastián, with an attendance of 32,000 also set the record for the biggest rugby match ever played in Spain.[24] Their October 2006 Celtic League game against Leinster at Lansdowne Road beat the record for that competition with an attendance of 27,252[25] - this record lasted just two months however with the Leinster and Ulster match on 31 December 2006 filling Lansdowne Road (over 48,000 in attendance) for the last match at the stadium before redevelopment.[26]

Munster fans are known for their silence when a kick is being taken, but also for their noise. Fans repeatedly chant "MUNSTER" or sing The Fields of Athenry (an Irish famine song and Stand Up and Fight (from the Broadway musical Carmen Jones). They famously sang The Black Velvet Band to the Ospreys' Irish winger Tommy Bowe during their 2009 Heineken Cup quarter final encounter.[27] Tommy Bowe sang this song at the official reception for the 2009 Grand Slam winning Ireland rugby team.


Season records

Celtic League

Celtic League results
Year Played Win Draw Loss PF PA Diff BP Points Place
2001-02 6 5 0 1 228 120 118 0 15 1st (Pool B)
2002-03 7 6 0 1 227 129 98 4 28 1st (Pool A)
2003-04 22 10 0 12 422 456 -34 11 51 7th
2004-05 20 15 1 4 470 331 139 7 69 2nd
2005-06 20 12 0 8 439 372 67 10 58 3rd
2006-07 20 12 0 8 379 294 85 6 54 6th
2007-08 18 10 1 7 330 258 72 6 48 3rd
2008-09 18 14 0 4 405 257 148 8 63 1st

Heineken Cup

Heineken Cup results
Year Played Win Draw Loss PF PA Diff Points Pool place Play-offs
1995-96 2 1 0 1 33 27 +8 2 2nd
1996-97 4 2 0 2 109 135 -26 4 4th
1997-98 6 2 0 4 141 180 -39 4 3rd
1998-99 6 4 1 1 144 108 +36 9 2nd Lost QF to US Colomiers
1999-00 6 5 0 1 188 132 +56 10 1st Lost F to Northampton
2000-01 6 5 0 1 154 109 +45 10 1st Lost SF to Stade Francais
2001-02 6 5 0 1 172 87 +85 10 2nd Lost F to Leicester
2002-03 6 4 0 2 206 107 +99 8 2nd Lost SF to Toulouse
2003-04 6 5 0 1 172 76 +96 24 1st Lost SF to London Wasps
2004-05 6 5 0 1 121 74 +47 22 1st Lost QF to Biarritz
2005-06 6 5 0 1 186 87 +99 23 1st Champions, defeating Biarritz (23-19)
2006-07 6 5 0 1 152 112 +40 23 2nd Lost QF to Llanelli Scarlets
2007-08 6 4 0 2 148 95 +53 19 1st Champions, defeating Toulouse (16-13)
2008-09 6 5 0 1 161 98 +63 23 1st Lost SF to Leinster

Current squad (Season 2009/2010)

Playing Squad

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under IRB eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-IRB nationality.

Nat. Position Player
Republic of Ireland HK Jerry Flannery
Republic of Ireland HK Denis Fogarty
Republic of Ireland HK Damien Varley
Republic of Ireland PR John Hayes
France PR Julien Brugnaut
Republic of Ireland PR Tony Buckley
Republic of Ireland PR Marcus Horan
Republic of Ireland PR Darragh Hurley
Republic of Ireland PR Dave Ryan
Republic of Ireland LK Donncha O'Callaghan
Republic of Ireland LK Paul O'Connell (C)
Republic of Ireland LK Mick O'Driscoll
Republic of Ireland LK Donnacha Ryan
Republic of Ireland FL Billy Holland
Republic of Ireland FL Tommy O'Donnell
Republic of Ireland FL Alan Quinlan
Republic of Ireland FL Niall Ronan
Republic of Ireland FL David Wallace
Republic of Ireland N8 James Coughlan
Republic of Ireland N8 Denis Leamy
New Zealand N8 Nick Williams
Nat. Position Player
Republic of Ireland SH Peter Stringer
Republic of Ireland SH Tomas O'Leary
New Zealand SH Duncan Williams
Australia OH Paul Warwick
Republic of Ireland OH Ronan O'Gara
New Zealand OH Jeremy Manning
South Africa CE Jean De Villiers
New Zealand CE Lifeimi Mafi
Republic of Ireland CE Barry Murphy
Republic of Ireland CE Keith Earls
Republic of Ireland CE Tom Gleeson
New Zealand WG Doug Howlett
Republic of Ireland WG Ian Dowling
Republic of Ireland WG Ciaran O'Boyle
Republic of Ireland WG Danny Riordan
Republic of Ireland FB Denis Hurley
Ireland FB Felix Jones

Players in (Season 2010/2011)

Players out (Season 2010/2011)

Players in (Season 2009/2010)

Players out (Season 2009/2010)

Notable players

British and Irish Lions

The following Munster players have also represented the British and Irish Lions [32][33].

Notable Overseas Players

Other Notables

See also


  1. ^ - Sports news - Munster appoint McGahan as coach - Wednesday, 18 June 2008
  2. ^
  3. ^ "Alone it Stands" has had several sell-out runs in Ireland and abroad. .POSTSMH "Stand Up and Fight" was a bestseller in 2005.MR
  4. ^ Fairfax Media - All Blacks tickets are the hottest game in Irish town - 11 November 2008
  5. ^ "Munster 16-18 New Zealand". BBC Sport. 2008-11-18. Retrieved 2009-04-30. 
  6. ^ Brendan Gallagher (30 January 2002). "Ireland's great prop claws his way to 50". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  7. ^ {{cite On the 30 April 2009 they clinched the Magners League for the second time in their history after closest challengers the Ospreys beat the Newport Gwent Dragons but failed to claim a bonus point, this handed the title to Munster who could not be overtaken at the top of the table. web|url=|title=Ospreys 27-18 Dragons |date=2009-04-30|work=BBC Sport|accessdate=2009-04-30}}
  8. ^ "Munster 36-10 Ospreys". BBC Sport. 2009-05-15. Retrieved 2009-05-16. 
  9. ^ "Heineken Cup 2009/10". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  10. ^ "Leinster 30-0 Munster". BBC Sport. 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  11. ^ "Northampton 31-27 Munster". BBC Sport. 2009-10-10. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  12. ^ "Munster 41-10 Treviso". BBC Sport. 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  13. ^ a b c Simon Lewis (3 July 2003). "New Munster kit and logo to save revenue, not exploit fans". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  14. ^ "Details for Thomond Park, Limerick". Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  15. ^ a b "Tigers storm Thomond Park". European Rugby Cup. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  16. ^ "Munster aim to start work in March". Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  17. ^ "Thomond to keep it's name". Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  18. ^ "Hunt for Cup Final tickets heats up". The Irish Post. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  19. ^ Kevin McDonnell (21 May 2006). "MUNSTER FANS". Sunday Mirror. Retrieved 2007-01-31. 
  20. ^ "Munster Rugby USA". Munster Rugby. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  21. ^ "Match Report: Munster v Leinster". European Rugby Cup. 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2009-05-02. 
  22. ^ "Battling Munster see off Perpignan". European Rugby Cup. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  23. ^ "The seventh Heineken Cup final". European Rugby Cup. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  24. ^ "Biarritz Move Into Final Four". European Rugby Cup. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  25. ^ "Leinster 27-20 Munster". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  26. ^ "The final curtain". BBC. Retrieved 2007-03-13. 
  27. ^ "Myopic Munster fans a blight on old rivalry". Retrieved 2008-04-22. 
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^,25883,3825_5686445,00.html
  31. ^
  32. ^ The Ireland Rugby Miscellany (2007): Ciaran Cronin
  33. ^

Further reading

  • English, A, (2005) Stand Up and Fight : When Munster Beats the All Blacks, Random House, London
  • English, A, (2006) Munster: Our Road to Glory, Penguin Ireland, Dublin
  • Murphy, E, (2006) Munster Rugby: The Secret of Their Success, Maverick House Publishers, Dublin
  • Cronin, C, (2006) Beyond Our Wildest Dreams: Munster's Heineken Cup Odyssey, Tuatha Mumhan Books

External links


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