Rassie Erasmus intends to soak up derby atmosphere at Thomond Park

Win or lose, Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus intends to savour the atmosphere of Monday’s Irish “derby” Guinness PRO12 clash of Munster and Leinster at Thomond Park.

The South African admits to almost being at a loss to understand what was going on when the sides met at the Aviva Stadium in October.

“It was a weird one for me”, he admits. “There were a lot of people, but we were sitting in a sound-proof coach’s box. It’s the first time I’ve experienced that. You couldn’t feel it at all, it was almost like watching a game on TV without commentary.

“So, it was difficult for me to get the vibe but, certainly, up until getting to the stadium, the whole week building up to that, from the warm-up and afterwards when we’re out of the coach’s box and us being out-played for the last 15-20 minutes, having been so in the match until James Cronin’s try was disallowed and then they went and scored ... it’s definitely, apart from the rivalry, a big occasion.

“Last weekend, despite the loss, the atmosphere in Leicester was also something special. It was something new, it felt very intense there. I guess, when Leinster are coming here, it will be the same kind of atmosphere.”

The Erasmus family are spending their first Christmas in Ireland.

“We’re not used to building it up so long in South Africa”, he said with a smile.

“It’s great, my children and my wife are loving it, as am I.”

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