A humid Saturday morning and clearly it is moving day in Lourdes. Dozens of buses clog the narrow streets of the town in the Pyrenees, hazard lights on as people are wheeled or carried from their hotels, others moving with a pep in their step as if the visit to the Marian shrine has uplifted them.
It’s been something of a rollercoaster week for Munster, what with a face-saving draw on the road against Castres, the weakest of the French participants in this season’s Champions Cup, to complement the confirmation of a new head coach, writes .
Veteran captain Rodrigo Capo Ortega and experienced scrum-half Rory Kockott are expected to return for Castres for Sunday’s Champions Cup open clash with Munster after missing this surprise loss at Stade Amedee Domenech on Saturday evening.
As if presiding over a performance Rassie Erasmus yesterday described as the “worst” of his Munster tenure was not painful enough, last Friday’s heavy defeat has further depleted the province’s second-row stocks.
Munster coach Rassie Erasmus knew all about his fellow South African Gerbrandt Grobler and so regarded him as the ideal player to fill the gaps left in the Munster second-row by the departures to France of Donnacha Ryan and Dave Foley and the long term injuries to Darren O’Shea and Dave O’Callaghan.
In a shock development, Peter O’Mahony was yesterday released from the Irish camp preparing for Saturday’s clash with Australia and will now lead Munster against Treviso in the Guinness PRO12 at Thomond Park on the same day.
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus, his staff, and his players have been working hard at UL over the last few days trying to return things to as close to normality as possible following the tragic and heartfelt loss of head coach Anthony Foley.
The prospect of missing out on qualification for next season’s European Champions Cup looms larger than ever for Munster after Glasgow Warriors’ win over the Newport Gwent Dragons on Thursday. That result drops Munster to eighth in the Guinness Pro12 table with only the top six assured of Champions Cup action.