Munster chief blasts fixture clash

Guinness Pro12: The head of Munster rugby has criticised the decision to stage their first game at the redeveloped Musgrave Park in Cork on the same day as Ireland take on France in the Six Nations.

Munster chief blasts fixture clash

Munster chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald said Pro12 games should not be staged in a country which is at home that day in the Six Nations. Ireland’s clash with France at the Aviva Stadium will just be coming to an end tomorrow evening when Munster will kick off their first game in Cork in a year when they take on Cardiff Blues at 7.35pm at the revamped venue where €3.2 million has spent developing the stadium.

“I can appreciate we need to continue with the Pro12 during the Six Nations but we should ensure that we don’t have clashes like this. It’s not fair on supporters who would like to attend both games. We should ensure that Pro12 games are not on the same day as a home international,” said Fitzgerald.

Munster will play four of their remaining five home games in the Pro12 in Cork and while the Cardiff game tomorrow is the only tie which will clash with a Six Nations game, Connacht will host Treviso on Sunday fortnight just as Ireland’s game with England is concluding at the Aviva Stadium. “It doesn’t help in promoting the competition. Of course, television needs to be accommodated but we should try work a schedule where we don’t have a game taking place in a country which is also hosting an international that day. It can take place on the same weekend, but not on the same day,” he added.

Meanwhile behind closed doors and out of the limelight, Munster’s rugby players are undergoing their own form of Operation Transformation. Nutritionist Dr Catherine Norton was added to the backroom staff at the start of the season, and a lot has changed for the players who are being supported by the nutritionist in their high-performance training.

Her work and contribution has been an eye opener for most of the players. Billy Holland explained: “If you were at the carvery one day at the start of the season she was standing five metres past so when you were coming out, she was actually looking under the food to see what fellas had hidden under, like was there stuffing under their meat? As good as you want to be when there is somebody who is actually telling you to stop, and I know we’re all adults at the end of the day, food is a difficult thing sometimes to restrain yourself with, and you could do well here for a few hours a day and then go home and eat crap, for the want of a better word.”

To have a full time hands-on nutritionist available has already and will continue to pay rich dividends believes Holland. “We actually got fat tested today, it’s a six-week thing and you know if they see a change, if your weight goes down and your fats go up for instance, they’ll sit on you. In pre-season it is easy to gain weight and lose fat, whereas in-season you’re trying to maintain both of them so they’ll look at your weight and your fat levels to see how they go. On top of that, she (Catherine) is always there to take questions and that’s great because it means action can be taken quickly.”

Holland is relishing the return of top-flight rugby to Musgrave Park. “I’m sure the far side of the pitch will be called ‘The Shed’ and will provide its own type of atmosphere which will impact on the players and on the ability to create a special atmosphere. It’s about time that we had a few games in Cork and we’re all looking forward to it; the pitch itself is in brilliant condition, although it always has been. We now have four games to look forward to in the next couple of months. From our point of view, particularly the Cork fellas, we know it’s very important to be getting Munster games down here.”

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