Like old times in Limerick again as supporters help make Thomond a formidable fortress for Munster
They got into it from the start, roaring the players in from their warm-up and back out for the kick-off. They got on the backs of the opposition and there’s no doubt some of the Saracens players didn’t quite seem themselves.
As well as that, the crowd lifted every Munster player when they got involved. This isn’t airy-fairy stuff – a player will genuinely get back up off the ground quicker when the crowd is going mad for a tackle he has made. It’s not a conscious choice – it’s pure adrenaline and it pushes out any pain you feel and gets you stuck into the next phase. The crowd makes a difference.
Whatever happens to this team now, whether they get out of the group or not, I hope Saturday was a bit of a turning point. There were mistakes in the game, there were facets of it that Munster need to improve on if they’re going to get a result away this weekend but even so, I was pleased after the game because this felt like old times. It felt like there was that connection between the team and the supporters that was so vital to the best Munster days.
Players always know when they’re not giving the crowd a performance to latch onto. If and when it happens, they go away and do what they can to make it right for the next game. That’s your responsibility as a rugby player. You need those supporters.
But supporters have a responsibility too I think. That might sound a bit rich to people who are spending their money to go to games but there’s a minimum requirement of passion and heart for your team. If you think you’re just going to be entertained, you’re not really taking part in the day. I’ve said this about Irish fans going to the Aviva before – that connection between team and supporters can make a difference but it won’t unless everyone gets into it.
Hopefully, Saturday has raised the standard again of what Thomond Park can be for Munster. It wasn’t the deciding factor in the game but it was an integral part of the day. It was great to be there for it.
Long may it last.