Penney catechism may need revising
Very simply, Anthony Foley was asked yesterday if he believed Rob Penney’s rugby philosophy was working in Munster.
“Well, we’ll find out Sunday won’t we?” he answered. “Working is a quarter-final in April. That’s what we are all about; it’s about success and taking this team forward.
“There has been a massive buy-in from the players, they enjoy playing (the Penney way) and hopefully we can get that result on Sunday against Racing Metro.”
It’s the usual situation for a major sporting club: win and nobody cares how you play, fail to qualify for the knockout stages in Europe and the vultures will descend.
The Munster and Ireland assistant coach was also asked about former team-mates criticising the adoption of the Canterbury-style approach.
Foley argued that Munster have not changed as much under Penney as people are being led to believe.
“I always respect everybody’s got an opinion but with Tony (McGahan) last year we played a similar way, just had a small bit of variation of what we did off nine.
“That’s because we are solely focused to play off our number 10, we have added a bit more width to our game. At times we have varied that up by going direct at the opposition.
“It all depends. You have an idea what our game plan is going out on to the pitch because you have a fair idea from what has happened in the past and what you have seen but it does change depending on conditions and opposition and what we can see.”
Bottom line: Munster need a minimum four tries to qualify and there’s a very good chance come lunch time Sunday they may need more, depending on how Leinster have gone in Exeter 24 hours earlier.
We heard all this last week; just replace Leinster voices with Munster ones. Rob Kearney and Joe Schmidt assured us Leinster would establish a winning position at home to Scarlets before they went chasing the bonus point.
Yet, after the opening collisions, Leinster were awarded a semi-difficult three-point opportunity. Jonny Sexton and Leo Cullen gave each other the briefest of glances before Sexton hoofed the ball into the corner.
The lineout-maul took over, grinding out two tries from their opening three assaults. Some airy throwing denied them a perfect return as a second-string Scarlets did little more than engage enthusiastically in defensive drills.
It wasn’t the Leinster think tank being disingenuous, rather on-field leaders being empowered to alter the game plan when deemed necessary.
Yesterday, Foley and Donnacha Ryan were making similar statements about winning the game before they chase the bonus point.
The impression is Racing Metro 92, with their European campaign in ruins after defeat to Saracens in Paris, have one eye on their Top 14 trip to Bordeaux on January 25th.
“The first thing you need to do is go out and win the game,” said Foley. “Look, it’s not something you can try and do straight away. You need to get into a game, you need to get into the rhythm and you get your processes right. You try and win the game first.”
Their failure to procure a bonus point last weekend against Edinburgh was different, Foley stated, mainly because it was in Murrayfield.
Sunday is different. Sunday they are in Thomond Park.
Another miracle match then. A miracle that needs to be achieved without Ronan O’Gara’s right boot. He goes before the ERC disciplinary committee today.
“It’s no different than a guy being injured,” was Foleys rationale. “You normally give them up until the last few minutes anyway to see what they are like. We’ll get on with our job and make sure we are properly prepared for Sunday. It has happened before where we’ve had injuries. Even last weekend we had Stephen Archer pull out on Friday and Mike Sherry in the warm-up over there. It’s just a seamless transition because the guys have been repping all week.
On Sunday Ian Keatley may have to kick the ball down the touchline at the very first opportunity.
Another do or die scenario. Just like the good old days.
It should have the natives in a delirious state from that opening collision. Qualify and the Penney doctrine is working.