Head coach Anthony Foley declared he was prepared to walk away from Munster if he felt he could no longer inspire winning performances from his players.
Former captain Foley, currently discussing a one-year extension to the two-year contract he signed when succeeding Rob Penney as the province’s head coach in the summer of 2014, presided over Munster’s elimination from this season’s Champions Cup on Saturday when his side were humiliated 27-7 by 14-man Stade Francais in Paris.
It was a shambolic performance from his players against a side that has struggled in its defence of the Top14 title in France and which featured three academy players and missed a number of key frontliners including Willem Alberts, Will Genia, and Pascal Papé.
Stade even looked better equipped than the Irish visitors when they went a man down on the stroke of half-time following Josaia Raisuqe’s red card and scored two second-half tries as Munster’s defence disintegrated and its offence failed to exploit its numerical advantage, butchering one try with a forward pass from Francis Saili and narrowly avoiding the ignominy of becoming the first Munster side not to score in 21 seasons of European competition when Conor Murray grabbed a late try.
After a miserable run of five straight defeats was ended by a narrow victory over Ulster in Belfast the previous weekend, this was a resumption of the malaise and a deflated and raw Foley, 42, admitted afterwards: “It’s about results and I’ve said it before and I’m clear on it, if I don’t feel I can get results there’s no point in being here.
“I’ve been brought up here. I’ve been here a long time, coming through the schools and everything. It’s about winning, it’s not about people, it’s about getting results. It doesn’t matter.
“Sport has no memory, no conscience, it doesn’t care. You’ve got to be able to do a job and get results.”
Clearly delivered in the emotional moments of a post-match defeat, Foley was asked to clarify whether he was genuinely considering his future at Munster.
“Oh yeah,” he replied, “I’ve just answered the question. Its about looking at everything, I do it on a weekly basis and nearly do it on a daily basis now at this stage.” Foley backed his players, insisting he had not felt let down by them but he has to somehow pick up the pieces from a second successive European exit at the pool stage and prepare his charges for a return fixture with Stade in Limerick on Saturday. That will see Munster looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat at Thomond Park in what is, for them, a dead rubber.
Only pride is on the line for Munster in that regard and the following week at Treviso before the focus returns to the league and a chance for redemption with a run to the Pro12 final.
“We need something,” Foley said. “We were having the same conversation this time last year, around trying to get out of our group, so we need to change something.” He then made a plea to supporters ahead of next weekend’s clash with Stade, adding: “Come out and support us. I think it’s important that we show force and we come out and the boys will turn up and do the best they can.”
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