Munster must keep the intimidation high before going wide
The beauty of sport is simple; it doesn’t matter how you dominate the opposition as long as you do so and win. This is why rugby is almost unique in its make-up with fat, tall, short, fast and slow players all contributing.
Castres, Zebre and Exeter have their methods, so too Racing Metro, but check out the USA Sevens’ method on YouTube by searching for “Carlin Isles Olympic Dream”. With a 10.1 seconds PB for the 100 metres Carlin Isles is amongst the top 40 100 metres sprinters in the US. Watch it and ask would you be intimidated?
Both Leinster and Munster require more than wins this weekend. How they go about this task is clearly their concern. But for me, to get a win, a bonus point and sufficient tries, intimidation is crucial in the first minute to the last.
As difficult as the challenge appears for both provinces, Exeter will be fully aware of Leinster’s threat. Would a fully stacked Racing be of Munster?
Exeter know if they get it wrong Leinster will punish them. The current challenge for Munster as they recalibrate is, while remaining competitive, understandably they are not dominating like teams of yore.
Being competitive while producing new and inexperienced talent in tough times deserves huge credit, but over the past two matches I wonder how have the opposition approached them? Did they fear them? More importantly as the game evolved did that fear grow or subside? Did Edinburgh’s backline fear Munster’s?
Clearly Racing’s team selection will be telling where the true value of the contest has been devalued. Had Racing maintained even a modicum of discipline against Saracens last weekend, Munster’s task would have been very interesting as Racing play a very different game to Munster.
Hammering it up front
Choosing to bludgeon up front with sheer power of Fijian Jone Qovu followed by the awesome pace/power of frontrower Dimitri Szarzewski (who is banned for Sunday’s clash), Eddy Ben Arous and Luc Ducalcon before number eight Masi Matadigo gets on the ball.
Then, when the opposition is reeling, fullback Benjamin Fall, old timer winger Sireli Bobo and lightning Juan Imhoff arrive. More succinctly, Racing Metro play open rugby but first off all hammering it up front, through mauls and power forward carries.
In contrast, Munster have tried to unlock the door out wide before firstly going down the corridor, making it easier physically and, crucially, mentally for the opposition who have been watching Munster’s style over the past months.
Hence their challenge is to invent a new form of intimidation. Their backline has lacked threat but the forwards did earn a cracking penalty try (while down James Coughlan) in Edinburgh.
That Munster lineout of yore has been the corner stone of mentally dominating teams. Its accuracy has dipped over recent times but they remain very good in the air but have avoided going down the line from penalties, where it took till the 38 minutes to do so last Sunday.