Devastating finishing in the final 10 minutes sent Racing 92 into the Heineken Champions Cup quarter-finals as the Parisians finally broke Munster’s brave resistance and left their hopes of progressing to the knockout rounds hanging by a slender thread.
Jacky Lorenzetti, the billionaire owner of Racing 92, knew that a conventional rugby stadium would do little to attract Parisians. So, when he set about finding a home for a club in which he had already invested multiple millions, razzmatazz, rather than rugby, took precedence.
There is no disguising the links that have bonded Munster and Racing 92 since Ronan O’Gara began his coaching journey in Paris in 2013. Donnacha Ryan, Simon Zebo, and Mike Prendergast have since found their way to the Top 14 outfit while the relationship between the European rivals has also been strengthened on a deeper emotional level by the tragic and sudden death of Anthony Foley in the city i
Ulster go into their Pool 4, Heineken Cup battle against Racing 92 this evening without talisman scrum-half, John Cooney, who has a shoulder injury. Dave Shanahan steps in at the spectacular La Defense Arena, in the western suburbs of Paris. Kieran Treadwell is coming in at lock for Alan O’Connor, while tight-head, Marty Moore, gets his first competitive Ulster start, since his move from Wasps in the summer.
Keith Earls, named by his peers last night as Zurich’s Irish player of the year, is aiming to cap a memorable season by accounting for Leinster’s European champions and claiming a first trophy for Munster since 2011.
In the raw aftermath of a second successive European semi-final defeat, there was very little a Munster captain could say to put a positive spin on yet another bitterly disappointing visit to the Champions Cup last four.