Munster Rugby

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Munster Rugby
Munster Rugby Logo
Nickname(s) The Red Army
Founded 1879; 136 years ago (1879)
Location Limerick and Cork, Ireland
Ground(s) Thomond Park (Capacity: 25,600)
Irish Independent Park (Capacity: 9,251)
Chairman Garrett Fitzgerald
Coach(es) Anthony Foley
Captain(s) Peter O'Mahony
Most caps Donncha O'Callaghan (268)
Top scorer Ronan O'Gara (2,625)
Most tries Anthony Horgan (41)
League(s) Pro12
2014–15 2nd (Runners-up)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website
Rugby current event.svg Current season
Rugby Provincial Teams Ireland.svg

Munster Rugby (Irish: Rugbaí Mumhan) is one of the four professional provincial rugby teams from the island of Ireland. They compete in the Pro12 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. The team represents the IRFU Munster Branch, which is one of four primary branches of the IRFU, and is responsible for rugby union throughout the geographical Irish province of Munster.[1] Their main home ground is Thomond Park, Limerick, though some smaller profile games are played at Musgrave Park, Cork. Munster currently play in a red and blue home strip, while the away strip is black and red. The Munster Rugby logo consists of three crowns and a stag. The team motto is "To the brave and faithful, nothing is impossible"; it is derived from the motto of the MacCarthy clan – "Forti et Fideli nihil difficile".

In 2008, Director of Coaching Declan Kidney left to take up the head coach job with Ireland, and Munster ensured continuity by promoting Australian Tony McGahan to the position from within the coaching setup. It was announced on 22 February 2012 that McGahan would be leaving Munster at the end of the 2011–12 season,[2][3][4] to take up a role of coaching co-ordinator on Australia's management team.[5] Rob Penney, coach of Canterbury and New Zealand U20, was chosen to succeed McGahan, being unveiled as the next Munster coach on 2 May 2012.[6] On 6 February 2014, it was announced that Penney and Backs coach Simon Mannix would be leaving Munster at the end of the 2013–14 season.[7] Former captain and then Forwards coach Anthony Foley was confirmed as the next Munster coach on 19 February 2014.[8]


Foundation and early years[edit]

Munster was officially founded in 1879, at the same time as Leinster and Ulster, with Connacht being founded ten years later in 1889. The first Interprovincial matches between Leinster, Ulster and Munster, however, were held in 1875. The founding of the Munster branch of the IRFU was intended to organise and oversee the game within the province, and prevent any club bias by providing neutral selectors for the representative side. In amateur days, the four Irish provinces played against each other in the Irish Interprovincial Championship and also played touring international sides. Leinster, as now, were the most accomplished side.

Munster traditionally drew its strength from the clubs of Limerick, with the game popular in the city and widely played at all levels. Teams such as Shannon, Garryowen and Young Munster built up fierce rivalries with one another, helping push standards in the province higher as a result.[9][10]

Games against touring sides[edit]

Munster has a great tradition of competitiveness and impassioned displays against touring sides. The first touring side to play Munster were the famous Original All Blacks led by Dave Gallagher, who lined out against Munster in the Markets Field, Limerick in November 1905. Munster were defeated that day 33–0. Throughout the years, Munster were to record a number of near-misses and last minute defeats against South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. The first tangible result against a touring side was to come in 1958, when the Wallabies were held to a 3–3 draw in Thomond Park. Munster became the first Irish provincial side to defeat a major touring team when they defeated Australia 11–8 in Musgrave Park, Cork on 25 January 1967. Munster were captained that day by Tom Kiernan.

Against the All Blacks[edit]

Munster first played the All Blacks in 1905, losing 33–0 on the occasion. They have played each other many times since then. Munster drew with New Zealand 3–3 in 1973 and, in 1978, became the only Irish side to have beaten the All Blacks. The 12–0 victory occurred on Tuesday 31 October 1978 at Thomond Park, in front of a crowd of 12,000, though many times that number still claim to have been present, such was the occasion.[11] Christy Cantillon scored a try with Tony Ward converting. Ward also added a drop-goal in each half. The game remains the only time an All Blacks team lost to any Irish side, and now forms part of Munster Rugby mythology. A stage play named Alone it Stands (by John Breen), and a book entitled Stand Up and Fight: When Munster Beat the All Blacks by Alan English were both based on the event. Both have been commercially successful. Alone it Stands has had several sell-out runs in Ireland and abroad. Stand Up and Fight was a bestseller in 2005.[12]

The All Blacks returned to Thomond Park in November 2008 to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1978 match, and to celebrate the opening of the new stadium. After 76 minutes of the match, Munster were winning 16–13, but a late try from Joe Rokocoko meant the All Blacks won 18–16.[13]

Against Australia[edit]

Like the All Blacks, Munster have played Australia many times. They first met in 1947, where Australia won 6–5. Munster claimed their first victory over the Wallabies in 1967, when they won 11–8. In 1992, Australia, reigning world champions, having won the 1991 Rugby World Cup, visited Munster as part of a European Tour. Munster won 22–19 in a rough encounter in Cork. Ten years later, London newspaper The Daily Telegraph recounted part of the legend in a feature on Munster prop Peter Clohessy: "The then Wallabies coach, Bob Dwyer, who was not a man who readily accepted that opposition sides could legitimately score more points than his team, immediately branded the Munster Number 3 a 'disgrace'. It had been a typically rugged, robust and memorable Munster triumph, with leather and fists flying on both sides. Clohessy, who wouldn't generally be known for misconduct, was no more guilty than the next man but world champions are not supposed to lose against a hastily assembled Irish provincial XV. There had to be a reason, an excuse, and Dwyer rounded on Clohessy".

History repeated itself in 2010 when Munster defeated the Wallabies 15–6, with their Australian fly-half, Paul Warwick, kicking all fifteen points (three penalties and 2 drop goals). The match was played in ferocious weather, with Munster playing into a gale-force wind and driving rain in the first half. Indeed, the conditions made the half time score of 6–6 all the more significant, as Australia could neither cope with the weather nor the Munster pressure in the second half.[14]

Professional era[edit]

On 26 August 1995, the International Rugby Board declared rugby union an "open" game, removing all restrictions on payments or benefits to those connected with the game. This was done due to a committee conclusion having an open game was the only way to end the hypocrisy of shamateurism, and keep control of the sport. The threat to amateur rugby union mostly prevalent in the Southern hemisphere, particularly in Australia where Super League was threatening to entice players to rugby league with large salaries.[15] In Ireland, the four provincial teams were the only teams to go professional, while their smaller constituent clubs remained amateur.

The 1995–96 season saw the first ever Heineken Cup, a new tournament set up for European clubs. The Irish were allocated three places in the competition, with these places going to Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The team failed to advance beyond the pool stages however. Munster finally reached the Heineken Cup quarter-finals in 1998–99 Heineken Cup, after three years of not being able to get out of the group stages.

European success (1999–2008)[edit]

Munster's first appearance in the Heineken Cup's final was in the 1999–2000 Heineken Cup, where they lost by one point to Northampton at Twickenham. Nevertheless, the season was most memorable with a 25–31 win over Toulouse in Bordeaux.

Their good form and bad luck continued in the following season, 2000–01, with a semi-final defeat to Stade Français, again by one point, where a try from John O'Neill [3] was disallowed by the referee, as he deemed the ball to be out over the dead-ball line. In the 2001–02 Heineken Cup, Munster lost the last match of their pool at Castres, but qualified as best runners-up. Munster beat Stade Français 16–14 in Paris, the only try of the game coming from Anthony Horgan. It was then on to Béziers to meet Castres again for the semi-final. Munster were triumphant and went to the final at Millennium Stadium to meet the reigning champions, Leicester. Munster lost a tight game remembered as 'the hand of Back' final, as the Leicester flanker used his hand illegally in a scrum when Munster had a last-chance attack. Munster also reached the final of the Celtic League in this season, but lost 24-20 to Leinster at Lansdowne Road, Dublin.

In 2002–03, Munster reached the quarter-finals after a win against Gloucester, later issued on VHS under the title "The Miracle Match". In this game, Munster needed to win by a margin of at least 27 points and score a minimum of four tries to earn a quarter-final berth. They won 33–6 with four tries in a game that has become part of Munster Rugby folklore. They again faced Leicester, this time at the Tigers' home of Welford Road, and defeated the reigning champions to progress to the semi-finals. They faced Toulouse in the semi-finals and lost out on a place in the final, after losing by a single point in France. In this season, Munster won the Celtic League for the first time, by beating Neath Swansea Ospreys 37–17 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

In 2003–04 it was more of the same. After an assured performance in the Pool stage, Munster defeated Stade Français at Thomond Park to set up a semi-final date with English champions, London Wasps. This match has gone down as one of the best Heineken Cup matches of all time. Although leading by 10 points in the second half, and having lost Ronan O'Gara to injury early on, they succumbed to 2 Wasps tries in injury time, resulting in a Wasps v Toulouse final. Munster finished in a disappointing seventh position in the 2003–04 season of the Celtic League.

In 2004–05, after a shaky performance in the Pool stage, Munster qualified as 5th seeds and played Biarritz away. The match was played at Real Sociedad's ground, the Anoeta Stadium, in San Sebastián, Spain – the first Heineken Cup game ever played in Spain. Biarritz won 19–10 to avenge a 38–29 defeat at the same stage in 2001. Munster finished second in the 2004-05 Celtic League season.

Inside the Millennium Stadium for the 2006 final where over 65,000 Munster fans were present

In 2005–06, Munster qualified to the final of the Heineken Cup, having overcome rivals Leinster 30–6 in the semi-final at Lansdowne Road. The final was held at the Millennium Stadium against Biarritz. Munster won 23–19 to become European Champions for the first time. Munster finished one place lower than the previous season in the Celtic League, finishing third overall.

The 2006–07 Heineken Cup was a disappointing tournament for Munster, as they lost their previously unbeaten European record at Thomond Park, losing to Leicester Tigers in the group stages. They later lost their quarter-final to Llanelli Scarlets. Munster's performance in the Celtic League was equally disappointing, finishing sixth overall.

In 2008, Munster signed Doug Howlett, the all-time leading try scorer for New Zealand. That season's Heineken Cup saw Munster finish top in their group, and they went on to reach the final for the second time in three years beating Saracens in the semi final. The final, again held at the Millennium Stadium, saw Munster defeat Toulouse 16–13 to claim their second Heineken Cup title in 3 years. Munster finished third in the Celtic League in the 2007–08 season.


In the 2008–09 Heineken Cup, Munster once again topped their group and reached the semi-final, but lost to arch-rivals Leinster 25–6, a match attended by a then world record crowd of over 82,200. On 30 April 2009, Munster clinched the Celtic League for the second time in their history, after their closest challengers Ospreys beat Newport Gwent Dragons but failed to claim a bonus point. This handed the title to Munster who could not be overtaken at the top of the table.[16]

The 2009–10 season saw Munster finish top of their Heineken Cup pool once again. Victories over Northampton Saints, French Top 14 champions USA Perpignan and Italian side Benetton Rugby Treviso saw Munster qualify for the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals for a record 12th consecutive year. The match took place at Thomond Park, where Munster played Northampton Saints for the third time that season and won 33-19. They lost 18–7 in the semi-finals against Biarritz at the Anoeta. Munster came 4th in the Celtic League, but because this season saw the introduction of a play off system for the top four teams, Munster met and lost 16–6 to Leinster in the play-off semi final.

The 2010–11 season saw Munster drawn in Pool 3 of the Heineken Cup alongside Ospreys, London Irish and RC Toulon. Munster lost 23–17 away to London Irish, before defeating RC Toulon 45–18 at Thomond Park. Munster defeated Ospreys 22–16, but lost the reverse fixture at Liberty Stadium 19–15. In Round 5 Munster went to Toulon, losing 32–16. As a result, Munster failed to qualify for the quarter finals of the Heineken Cup for the first time in 13 years. Munster won their final pool game, at home to London Irish, 28–14, and qualified for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals. Munster defeated Leinster 24–23 on 2 April 2011 in the Celtic League, ending a run of 5 straight defeats. Munster beat Brive 37–42 in their Amlin Challenge Cup quarter final to qualify for the semi-final against Harlequins on 30 April. Munster lost the semi-final in Thomond Park 20–12.[17] Munster finished first in the 2010–11 Celtic League. They beat Ospreys 18–11 in their semi-final to set up a Grand Final with Leinster, which Munster won 19–9, securing a third Celtic League title.[18][19]

Munster were drawn in Pool One for the 2011–12 Heineken Cup, alongside Northampton Saints, Scarlets and Castres Olympique. They beat Northampton 23–21 in the first pool game at Thomond Park, after an 83rd minute drop-goal from Ronan O'Gara.[20] In their second pool game, Munster beat Castres 24–27, with O'Gara again scoring an overtime drop-goal to secure victory.[21] Munster won their third pool game, away to Scarlets, 14–17.[22] In the return fixture a week later, Munster won 19–13.[23] A 26–10 win over Castres on 14 January 2012 ensured that Munster qualified for the quarter-finals of the 2011–12 Heineken Cup.[24] Munster ended their 2011–12 Heineken Cup Pool 1 games with a 36–51 victory against Northampton Saints, securing the top seed in the quarter-finals and winning 6 out of 6 pool matches for the first time.[25] Munster lost their quarter-final against Ulster 16–22, losing just their second match at home in the Heineken Cup.[26] Munster finished third in the 2011–12 Pro 12, and played Ospreys away in the play-off semi-finals, losing 45–10.[27]

Munster were again drawn in Pool One for the 2012–13 Heineken Cup, with Saracens F.C., Edinburgh Rugby and Racing Métro 92.[28] The campaign opened with a 22–17 away defeat at the hands of Racing Métro 92.[29] Munster won their second game, at home to Edinburgh, 33–0.[30] The December back-to-back games began with a home fixture against Saracens, which Munster won 15–9.[31] In the reverse fixture, Munster lost 19–13.[32] In the fifth round of pool fixtures, Munster beat Edinburgh 17-26.[33] Munster had to win their final pool game, against Racing Métro, with a try bonus-point to have a chance of qualifying for the quarter-finals. Munster won the game 29-6, scoring 5 tries, including a hat-trick from Simon Zebo. Leicester Tigers 9-5 victory over Toulouse ensured that Munster qualified as the second-best runner up, and they played Harlequins in the quarter-finals.[34] Munster won the quarter-final 12-18,[35] advancing to the semi-final, which they lost 16-10 to Clermont Auvergne on 27 April 2013.[36] Munster finished sixth in the 2012–13 Pro12.[37]

Munster were drawn in Pool 6 for the 2013–14 Heineken Cup, alongside USA Perpignan, Edinburgh Rugby and Gloucester Rugby.[38] Edinburgh beat Munster 29-23 in the opening pool fixture on 12 October 2013.[39] In their second pool game on 19 October 2013, Munster beat Gloucester 26-10.[40] Munster beat Perpignan 36-8 in Round 3.[41] In the Round 4 reverse fixture on 14 December 2013, Munster won 17-18 at Perpignan.[42] Munster beat Gloucester 7-20 at Kingsholm on 11 January 2014, a win that secured quarter-final qualification.[43] Munster beat Edinburgh 38-6 on 19 January 2014 in Round 6, a bonus-point win that secured a home quarter-final.[44] In their quarter-final, Munster beat Toulouse 47-23.[45] Munster lost 24-16 to Toulon in the semi-final on 27 April 2014.[46] Munster finished third in the 2013–14 Pro 12,[47] but lost 16–15 to Glasgow in the semi–final.[48]

Munster were drawn in Pool 1 of the 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup, alongside Saracens F.C., ASM Clermont Auvergne and Sale Sharks.[49] A late drop-goal from Ian Keatley gave Munster a 26-27 away win against Sale Sharks in Round 1 on 18 October 2014.[50] Munster beats Saracens F.C. 14-3 in Round 2 on 24 October 2014.[51] ASM Clermont Auvergne beat Munster 9-16 at Thomond Park in Round 3 on 6 December 2014, becoming the first French team to beat Munster at their home stadium.[52] In the reverse fixture on 14 December 2014, Clermont beat Munster 26-19.[53] Saracens beat Munster 33-10 on 17 January 2015 in Round 5, a defeat which meant Munster failed to qualify for the knockout stages for only the second time in 17 seasons.[54] In Round 6, Munster beat Sale Sharks 65-10, a win that was their 100th in Europe.[55] Munster finished second on the 2014-15 Pro12.[56] In the play-off semi-final, Munster beat Ospreys 21-18.[57] Munster were beaten 13-31 by Glasgow Warriors in the 2015 Pro12 Grand Final on 30 May 2015.[58]

Munster were drawn in Pool 4 of the 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup, alongside Stade Français, Leicester Tigers and Treviso.[59] On 14 November 2015, Munster beat Treviso 32-7 in their opening pool game.[60] Munster's second pool game, against Stade Français, was postponed following the November 2015 Paris attacks. The match was scheduled to be played at the Stade Jean-Bouin in Paris.[61]

Current standings[edit]


2015–16 Pro12 watch · edit · discuss
Team Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Diff Tries For Tries Against Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Ireland Connacht 8 7 0 1 217 158 +59 25 18 3 1 32
2 Wales Scarlets 8 7 0 1 168 112 +56 17 13 1 1 30
3 Ireland Munster 8 6 0 2 178 164 +14 20 13 2 2 28
4 Ireland Leinster 8 6 0 2 160 108 +52 16 10 2 1 27
5 Scotland Glasgow Warriors 8 5 0 3 190 164 +26 20 15 3 3 26
6 Scotland Edinburgh 8 5 0 3 145 114 +31 14 7 1 2 23
7 Ireland Ulster 8 4 0 4 172 120 +52 23 10 4 3 23
8 Wales Ospreys 8 3 0 5 142 151 −9 13 17 1 2 15
9 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 8 2 0 6 123 183 −60 10 20 0 2 10
10 Wales Cardiff Blues 8 1 0 7 202 205 −3 23 26 2 4 10
11 Italy Zebre 8 2 0 6 96 210 −114 11 29 1 0 9
12 Italy Benetton Treviso 8 0 0 8 106 210 −104 10 24 0 5 5

If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:[62]

  1. number of matches won;
  2. the difference between points for and points against;
  3. the number of tries scored;
  4. the most points scored;
  5. the difference between tries for and tries against;
  6. the fewest number of red cards received;
  7. the fewest number of yellow cards received.

Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places, and earn a place in the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background indicates teams outside the play-off places, that earn a place in the European Rugby Champions Cup.
To facilitate the 2015 Rugby World Cup, there will be no play-offs for the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup with the 20th place going to the winner of the 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup if not already qualified.
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2016–17 European Rugby Challenge Cup

European Rugby Champions Cup[edit]

Pool 4[edit]

England Leicester Tigers 2 2 0 0 69 23 +46 9 3 2 0 10
Ireland Munster 1 1 0 0 32 7 +25 4 1 1 0 5
France Stade Français 1 0 0 1 20 33 –13 3 4 0 0 0
Italy Benetton Treviso 2 0 0 2 10 68 –58 1 9 0 0 0

Results Against Touring International Teams[edit]

Date Country Location Score Result
1947 Australia Australia Mardkye 5–6 Lost
1951 South Africa South Africa Thomond Park 6-11 Lost
1954 New Zealand New Zealand Mardyke 3–6 Lost
1958 Australia Australia Thomond Park 3–3 Draw
1960 South Africa South Africa Musgrave Park 3–9 Lost
1962 Canada Canada Musgrave Park 11-8 Won
1963 New Zealand New Zealand Thomond Park 3–6 Lost
1967 Australia Australia Musgrave Park 11–8 Won
1970 South Africa South Africa Thomond Park 9–25 Lost
1973 New Zealand New Zealand Musgrave Park 3–3 Drew
1973 Argentina Argentina Thomond Park 12-12 Drew
1974 New Zealand New Zealand Thomond Park 4–14 Lost
1976 Australia Australia Musgrave Park 13–15 Lost
1978 New Zealand New Zealand Thomond Park 12–0 Won
1980 Romania Romania Thomond Park 9-32 Lost
1981 Australia Australia Musgrave Park 15–6 Won
1984 Australia Australia Thomond Park 19–31 Lost
1989 New Zealand New Zealand Musgrave Park 9–31 Lost
1990 USSR Soviet Union Clonmel 15–19 Lost
1992 Australia Australia Musgrave Park 22–19 Won
1996 Samoa Samoa Musgrave Park 25–35 Lost
1996 Australia Australia Thomond Park 19–55 Lost
1998 Morocco Morocco Thomond Park 49–17 Won
2008 New Zealand New Zealand Thomond Park 16–18 Lost
2010 Australia Australia Thomond Park 15–6 Won

Colours and crest[edit]

The flag of the Province of Munster

The 'three crowns' flag of Munster alludes to the three constituent historic kingdoms of Munster; Thomond in the north, Desmond in the south, and Ormond in the east. A revamped logo was introduced for the 2003–04 season which included the addition of a stag with the three crowns.[63] The crest was designed to maintain the three crowns, and the new red stag symbolises strength and competitiveness.[63] The decision for change was a product of two years of planning of research and design.[63] Elements of navy were also introduced into mainly red Munster jersey. The current kit consists of a red shirt with navy blue trimming, white shorts and red socks. The kit is made by Adidas, who replaced Canterbury of New Zealand, in a deal covering kit supply for three seasons. The name of Munster's title sponsors, appears on their shirt. It was announced on 21 May 2013 that Bank of Ireland would be replacing Toyota as Munster's sponsor.[64] The counties of Munster are listed in white on the collar of the new jersey.[65]

Home grounds[edit]

Munster have two main stadia where they play their home matches – Thomond Park in Limerick and Irish Independent Park in Cork. Thomond Park is the bigger of the two, with a capacity of around 25,600, while Irish Independent Park holds 9,251. As well as Munster, Shannon RFC and UL Bohemian RFC play at the grounds of Thomond Park. Thomond Park is famous for its atmosphere and unique history[66] – its noise during play and complete silence when a player (home or away) is kicking at goal. It is also famous for Munster's intimidating record that it held for over a decade – having never been beaten at home during the Heineken Cup.[67] However the record was broken during the 2006–07 season when they were defeated by the Leicester Tigers.[67] Munster train in the University of Limerick.

Thomond Park went through a major renovation in 1999, and in 2006, Munster announced plans to upgrade it. In autumn 2008 the new 27,000 capacity stadium was opened. Two sweeping arches are one of the defining features of the stadium as well as the concourse outside of the new East Stand.[68] The new stadium design was well received and won the Public Choice Award for 2009 from the Irish Architecture Foundation.[69] A long discussion and consultation on the new name concluded with the decision that the name would remain Thomond Park.[70]


Thousands of fans watch the 2006 Heineken Cup Final in Limerick

The strength of Munster's support was demonstrated during Munster's 2006 and 2008 Heineken Cup final wins. News reports detailed the lengths that fans were willing to go to secure tickets to the game, with some Munster fans travelling to Biarritz to buy up the French allocation of tickets.[71] On the day of the game the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was filled with a capacity crowd of 74,500. Of those numbers it is estimated that somewhere between 55,000 and 65,000 were Munster fans[72] with the remainder being neutrals and Biarritz supporters. The Millennium Stadium was intended to be a neutral venue but commentators on the day remarked that it could hardly be counted as such. In North America there is an official supporters club called Munster Rugby USA.[73]

Munster played in the most attended semi-final match of the Heineken Cup. 82,208 spectators attended their 2008–09 Heineken Cup semi-final against Irish rivals Leinster, which was played in Croke Park, Dublin. This was also, at the time, the largest crowd ever at a club rugby union match. The record was broken in a league game between English sides Saracens and Harlequins in 2012.[74]

Munster's appearance in the 2002 final of the Heineken Cup against Leicester Tigers at the Millennium Stadium, which drew 74,600, was the record attendance for a final in the competition[75] until the 2007 Heineken Cup final between Leicester and London Wasps at the newly expanded Twickenham, although it is estimated that as many as 10,000 Munster fans attended this game, having bought tickets before Munster were knocked out of the competition. Munster's 2005 quarter-final against Biarritz Olympique in Estadio Anoeta, played as it was across the border in San Sebastián, with an attendance of 32,000 also set the record for the biggest rugby match ever played in Spain.[76] Their October 2006 Celtic League game against Leinster at Lansdowne Road beat the record for that competition with an attendance of 27,252.[77] This record lasted just two months however with the Leinster and Ulster match on 31 December 2006 filling Lansdowne Road (over 48,000 in attendance) for the last match at the stadium before redevelopment.[78]

On 2 October 2010, Munster played Leinster in the Round 5 of the Celtic League at the Aviva Stadium, this set a new crowd attendance record for a Celtic League game at 50,645.[79]

Munster fans are known for their silence when a kick is being taken, but also for their noise. Fans repeatedly chant "MUNSTER" or sing "The Fields of Athenry" (an Irish famine song from Galway, Connacht) and "Stand Up and Fight" (from the Broadway musical Carmen Jones.) They famously sang The Black Velvet Band to the Ospreys' Irish winger Tommy Bowe during their 2009 Heineken Cup quarter final encounter.[80] Tommy Bowe sang this song at the official reception for the 2009 Grand Slam winning Ireland rugby team.

Munster Rugby is unusual in the aspect that it has given two words to the rugby lexicon. Famously, the Limerick club of Garryowen introduced the "Garryowen kick", a high up and under which puts defending players under pressure. Also, the term "Mullocker", used to describe an unrefined forward, has its origins amongst the dockers who worked on a casual basis for the Limerick docking firm, Mullock & Sons.

Munster A[edit]

Munster A is the team that represents Munster in the British & Irish Cup and in the All-Ireland Inter-Provincial Championship.[81] Pre-professionalism and a formal Celtic league structure, the main Munster team competed in the AIPC. Since the advent of professionalism the provinces have fielded lesser teams in order to concentrate on the Celtic League. The team is composed of Senior Munster squad players requiring gametime, Academy players and AIL players called up from their club.[82]

Having been beaten finalists in the 2009–10 British and Irish Cup, losing 23–14 to Cornish Pirates,[83] Munster A secured success in the British and Irish Cup on 27 April 2012, beating Cross Keys 31–12 in the final of the 2011–12 tournament at Irish Independent Park.[84]



Munster A

Season records[edit]

Celtic League/Pro12[edit]

Season Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points
2001–02 1st (Pool B) 6 5 0 1 0 15
Quarter-final Munster 13 – 6 Llanelli
Semi-final Munster 15 – 9 Ulster
Final Leinster 24 – 20 Munster
2002–03 1st (Pool A) 7 6 0 1 4 28
Quarter-final Munster 33 – 3 Connacht
Semi-final Munster 42 – 10 Ulster
Final Neath 17 – 37 Munster
2003–04 7th 22 10 0 12 11 51
2004–05 2nd 20 15 1 4 7 69
2005–06 3rd 20 12 0 8 10 66[n 1]
2006–07 6th 20 12 0 8 6 54
2007–08 3rd 18 10 1 7 6 48
2008–09 1st 18 14 0 4 8 63
2009–10 4th 18 9 0 9 9 45
Semi-final Leinster 16 – 6 Munster
2010–11 1st 22 19 0 3 7 83
Semi-final Munster 18 – 11 Ospreys
Final Munster 19 – 9 Leinster
2011–12 3rd 22 14 1 7 9 67
Semi-final Ospreys 45 – 10 Munster
2012–13 6th 22 11 1 10 8 54
2013–14 3rd 22 16 0 6 10 74
Semi-final Glasgow 16 – 15 Munster
2014–15 2nd 22 15 2 5 11 75
Semi-final Munster 21 – 18 Ospreys
Final Munster 13 – 31 Glasgow
  1. ^ 11 teams were involved in this season, so one team did not play each week and were awarded 4 points instead.
    Therefore, each team finished the season with 8 more points than the table would seem to warrant.

Heineken Cup[edit]

Season Pool/Round Pos Played Won Drawn Lost Bonus Points
1995–96 Pool 4 2 2 1 0 1 2
1996–97 Pool 4 4 4 2 0 2 4
1997–98 Pool 4 4 6 2 0 4 4
1998–99 Pool 2 2 6 4 1 1 9
Quarter-final Colomiers 23 – 9 Munster
1999–2000 Pool 4 1 6 5 0 1 10
Quarter-final Munster 27 – 10 Stade Français
Semi-final Toulouse 25 – 31 Munster
Final Northampton Saints 9 – 8 Munster
2000–01 Pool 4 1 6 5 0 1 10
Quarter-final Munster 38 – 29 Biarritz Olympique
Semi-final Stade Français 16 – 15 Munster
2001–02 Pool 4 2 6 5 0 1 10
Quarter-final Stade Français 14 – 16 Munster
Semi-final Castres 17 – 25 Munster
Final Leicester Tigers 15 – 9 Munster
2002–03 Pool 2 2 6 4 0 2 8
Quarter-final Leicester Tigers 7 – 20 Munster
Semi-final Toulouse 13 – 12 Munster
2003–04 Pool 5 1 6 5 0 1 4 24
Quarter-final Munster 37 – 32 Stade Français
Semi-final Munster 32 – 37 London Wasps
2004–05 Pool 4 1 6 5 0 1 2 22
Quarter-final Biarritz Olympique 19 – 10 Munster
2005–06 Pool 1 1 6 5 0 1 3 23
Quarter-final Munster 19 – 10 Perpignan
Semi-final Leinster 6 – 30 Munster
Final Biarritz Olympique 19 – 23 Munster
2006–07 Pool 4 2 6 5 0 1 3 23
Quarter-final Llanelli Scarlets 24 – 15 Munster
2007–08 Pool 5 1 6 4 0 2 3 19
Quarter-final Gloucester 3 – 16 Munster
Semi-final Saracens 16 – 18 Munster
Final Toulouse 13 – 16 Munster
2008–09 Pool 1 1 6 5 0 1 3 23
Quarter-final Munster 43 – 9 Ospreys
Semi-final Munster 6 – 25 Leinster
2009–10 Pool 1 1 6 5 0 1 4 24
Quarter-final Munster 33 – 19 Northampton Saints
Semi-final Biarritz Olympique 18 – 7 Munster
2010–11 (HC) Pool 3 2 6 3 0 3 4 16
2010–11 (AC) Quarter-final CA Brive 37 – 42 Munster
Semi-final Munster 12 – 20 Harlequins
2011–12 Pool 1 1 6 6 0 0 1 25
Quarter-final Munster 16 – 22 Ulster
2012–13 Pool 1 2 6 4 0 2 4 20
Quarter-final Harlequins 12 - 18 Munster
Semi-final Clermont Auvergne 16 - 10 Munster
2013–14 Pool 6 1 6 5 0 1 3 23
Quarter-final Munster 47 - 23 Toulouse
Semi-final Toulon 24 - 16 Munster
2014–15 Pool 1 3 6 3 0 3 3 15

Senior Squad[edit]

Coaching & Management Staff[edit]

Position Name Nationality
Head Coach Anthony Foley  Ireland
Team Manager Niall O'Donovan[88]  Ireland
Scrum Coach Jerry Flannery  Ireland
Backs Coach Brian Walsh  Ireland
Assistant Coach Ian Costello  Ireland
Technical Advisor Mick O'Driscoll  Ireland
Head of Fitness Aled Walters  Wales
Strength & Conditioning Coach Aidan O'Connell  Ireland
Strength & Conditioning Coach Adam Sheehan  Ireland
Performance Analyst George Murray  Ireland
Operations Manager Bryan Murphy  Ireland

Senior Playing Squad 2015–16[edit]

For player movements leading up to the 2015–16 season, see List of 2015–16 Pro12 transfers#Munster.

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Duncan Casey Hooker Ireland Ireland
Kevin O'Byrne Hooker Ireland Ireland
Niall Scannell Hooker Ireland Ireland
Mike Sherry Hooker Ireland Ireland
Stephen Archer Prop Ireland Ireland
BJ Botha Prop South Africa South Africa
James Cronin Prop Ireland Ireland
David Kilcoyne Prop Ireland Ireland
Peter McCabe Prop Ireland Ireland
John Ryan Prop Ireland Ireland
Mario Sagario Prop Uruguay Uruguay
Mark Chisholm Lock Australia Australia
Dave Foley Lock Ireland Ireland
Billy Holland Lock Ireland Ireland
Donnacha Ryan Lock Ireland Ireland
Shane Buckley Flanker Ireland Ireland
Jordan Coghlan Flanker Ireland Ireland
Sean Doyle* Flanker Australia Australia
Dave O'Callaghan Flanker Ireland Ireland
Tommy O'Donnell Flanker Ireland Ireland
Peter O’Mahony (c) Flanker Ireland Ireland
Robin Copeland Number 8 Ireland Ireland
Jack O'Donoghue Number 8 Ireland Ireland
CJ Stander* Number 8 South Africa South Africa
Player Position Union
Conor Murray Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Tomás O'Leary Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Cathal Sheridan Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Duncan Williams Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Jonathan Holland Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Ian Keatley Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Tyler Bleyendaal Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Cian Bohane Centre Ireland Ireland
Matt D'Arcy Centre Ireland Ireland
Keith Earls Centre Ireland Ireland
Denis Hurley Centre Ireland Ireland
Francis Saili Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Andrew Conway Wing Ireland Ireland
Ronan O'Mahony Wing Ireland Ireland
Gerhard van den Heever Wing South Africa South Africa
Simon Zebo Wing Ireland Ireland
Lucas González Amorosino Fullback Argentina Argentina
Darren Sweetnam Fullback Ireland Ireland
  • Internationally capped players in bold.
  • Players qualified to play for Ireland on residency or dual nationality. *
  • Irish provinces are currently limited to 4 non-Irish eligible (NIE) players and 1 non-Irish qualified player (NIQ or "Project Player").

Academy Squad[edit]

Coaching & Management Staff[edit]

The Munster Academy Coaching and Management staff for the 2014–15 season.

Position Name Nationality
Elite Development Manager Peter Malone  Ireland
Elite Player Development Officer Colm McMahon  Ireland
Elite Player Development Officer Greig Oliver  Scotland
Strength & Conditioning Coach Feargal O'Callaghan  Ireland
Strength & Conditioning Coach Joe McGinley  Ireland
Sub-Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach Gordon Brett  Ireland
Sub-Academy Strength & Conditioning Coach PJ Wilson  Ireland
Physio Patrick Hanley  Ireland
Physio Damien Mordan  Ireland
Video Analysis Elliot Corcoran  Ireland

Academy Playing Squad 2015–16[edit]

The Munster Academy for the 2015–16 season. Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Rory Burke Prop Ireland Ireland year 3
Niall Horan Prop Ireland Ireland year 3
Liam O'Connor Prop Ireland Ireland year 1
JP Phelan Prop Ireland Ireland year 1
Brian Scott Prop Ireland Ireland year 2
John Madigan Lock Ireland Ireland year 3
Sean McCarthy Lock Ireland Ireland year 3
Darragh Moloney Lock Ireland Ireland year 2
Ben Kilkenny Flanker Ireland Ireland year 1
Ollie Lyons Flanker Ireland Ireland year 1
Conor Oliver Flanker Ireland Ireland year 1
Player Position Union
Jack Cullen Scrum-half Ireland Ireland year 3
Ryan Foley Scrum-half Ireland Ireland year 2
Bill Johnston Fly-half Ireland Ireland year 1
Gearoid Lyons Fly-half Ireland Ireland year 3
Tomás Quinlan Fly-half Ireland Ireland year 1
Dan Goggin Centre Ireland Ireland year 2
Ned Hodson Centre Ireland Ireland year 1
Rory Scannell Centre Ireland Ireland year 3
Steven McMahon Wing Ireland Ireland year 1
Greg O'Shea Wing Ireland Ireland year 3
Alex Wootton Wing Ireland Ireland year 3
Stephen Fitzgerald Fullback Ireland Ireland year 2
David Johnston Fullback Ireland Ireland year 3

Notable players[edit]

Main article: Munster Rugby players

British and Irish Lions[edit]

The following Munster players have also represented the British and Irish Lions:[89][90]

The '200' Club[edit]

Players who have reached the 200 caps mark for Munster.

Overseas Players[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Individual Records[edit]

(correct as of 31 October 2015) Bold indicates highest overall record.

All Time

Heineken Cup

Celtic League

ERC Elite Awards[edit]

  • Team Award (50 Heineken Cup matches): Ireland Munster Rugby (145)

ERC Player Awards[edit]

ERC 15 European Player Award[edit]

An award to recognise the best European player in the Heineken Cup from 1995–2010.

ERC European Dream Team[edit]

The following Munster players were selected in the ERC European Dream Team, an all–time dream team of Heineken Cup players.

Pro 12 Team of the Year[edit]

Competition Irish players Foreign players
2007–08[91] —— Tonga Lifeimi Mafi
2008–09[92] Ronan O'Gara,
Jerry Flannery,
Paul O'Connell
Tonga Lifeimi Mafi
2009–10[93] Tomas O'Leary ——
2010–11[94] Ronan O'Gara ——
2011–12[95] —— South Africa BJ Botha
2013–14[96] Dave Kilcoyne New Zealand Casey Laulala
2014–15[97] Tommy O'Donnell South Africa CJ Stander

Pro12 Golden Boot[edit]

The Golden Boot is awarded to the kicker who has successfully converted the highest percentage of place kicks during the 22 week regular Pro12 season. The prize has been awarded annually since 2012. (Percentage success rate in brackets)

See also[edit]


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Further reading[edit]

  • English, A, (2005) Stand Up and Fight: When Munster Beats the All Blacks, Random House, London
  • English, A, (2006) Munster: Our Road to Glory, Penguin Ireland, Dublin
  • Murphy, E, (2006) Munster Rugby: The Secret of Their Success, Maverick House Publishers, Dublin
  • Cronin, C, (2006) Beyond Our Wildest Dreams: Munster's Heineken Cup Odyssey, Tuatha Mumhan Books
  • Irish Examiner, (2008) Munster: Champions of Europe, Gill & Macmillian Ltd, Dublin
  • Coughlan, B, (2009) Rags to Riches: The Story of Munster Rugby, The Collins Press, Cork

External links[edit]