Munster now have the worst possible preparation for the Champions Cup

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The cancellation of the two United Rugby Championship matches in Munster against the Bulls and Lions in South Africa due to the appearance of the new omicron variant Covid has certainly made life interesting for Munster Rugby.

Instead of playing a game on Saturday, the 34 players and 14 staff who traveled to South Africa found themselves stranded as the province tried to make arrangements to return home. There is also the issue of a possible quarantine upon their return, although they may get a waiver based on their involvement in elite sport.

Depending on the severity of this variant, we may well find ourselves in a similar situation to last year, when the teams in the northern and southern hemispheres of the RCU were separated from each other during the Rainbow Cup. These postponed matches may never be played.

There are other indirect consequences of the fact that Munster was unfortunately based in South Africa at the time of the outbreak. Munster’s campaign for the Heineken Champions Cup is set to begin on December 12 in Coventry against the Wasps.

Had both RCU games been played, Munster would have worked to ensure that the team arrives at the Ricoh Arena in as fresh condition as possible after all the trips to South Africa. The events of the last few days have changed everything in this regard.

Now almost the entire Munster squad are facing a tough time which makes preparation for the hugely important Wasps game incredibly difficult. A lot of good work would have gone into the team in recent weeks, but staying home, without any contact training, presents the real threat of losing all that hard work.

It’s now likely that Munster will take on the wasps that are completely undercooked, which will not only hurt in terms of sharpness and performance levels, but will also make players more susceptible to injury due to their lack of match speed. . train and not have their body tuned to give and receive collisions.

Simon Zebo and Kevin O’Byrne share a joke. Photo: INPHO / Gordon Arons

And Munster themselves are not the only team that will be negatively affected if quarantine is indeed required, as all of the Munster clubs of Energia AIL Division 1A will also have to do without the services of their Munster contingent in the over the next two weekends if that was to happen.

LOSS

The past weekend has shown how important the availability of these Munster players is for the best Munster teams. With almost the entire Munster squad stuck in South Africa, Munster’s four clubs in Division 1A really struggled with Cork Con being the only one to win, and even that was a 17-19 marginal victory at Ballynahinch, when they were 15 years old. point out the favorites in the bookmakers on Saturday morning.

Young Munster, Garryowen and UCC have all been well beaten by their opposition from Dublin, with the last two losses also coming at home.

Under normal circumstances, if Munster had played at home, or even away somewhere in Europe, a sufficiently large travel squad would have been selected and anyone not selected on that squad could have been released to play for their club this. Saturday that day.

With two games to negotiate, before the omicron variant scuttled the mini-tour, an extra-large team of 34 players traveled to South Africa, meaning Con had to do without Jack Crowley, Sean French and Liam O’Connor, UCC was without the services of Jack O’Sullivan and Alex Kendellen (as well as the injured John Hodnett), while Garryowen did not have access to Liam Coombes, Ben Healy and Jack Daly.

For example, Jack O’Sullivan had been instrumental in the college’s 10-6 battle of the Basement victory over Ballynahinch last weekend, and indeed, having access to three of Munster’s best back rowers during of the opening laps was a boost for Brian Walsh’s Charges, although they have struggled in the league so far.

Garryowen had started the season very well, winning his first four games, and the key to those victories was the performances of Liam Coombes and Jack Daly.

It’s no surprise that they left and lost three times in a row. Coombes of Skibbereen has been called up from the Munster side, showing that Munster won’t be the only one anxiously watching how events unfold in the coming days.


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