Going out in the Pro12 semi-final will mean a wash-out of a season for Munster, Ulster or Leinster

No matter how well any of the Irish provinces have played, this is no weekend for it all to end

Glasgow Warriors have won their last eight games in a row, including beating Munster at Thomond Park last month. photograph: inpho

Glasgow Warriors have won their last eight games in a row, including beating Munster at Thomond Park last month. photograph: inpho

Wed, May 14, 2014, 12:00

The season is going to end this weekend for a couple of teams and by the middle of next week their players are going to be sitting around wondering where it all went wrong. The semi-finals of the Rabo are a terrible place to finish up – at least if you make the final and end up getting beaten, you gave yourself a shot at a trophy. To go out in the semi-final just leaves you feeling annoyed about the way the season went.

Take Munster, for example. If they lose in Glasgow on Friday night, then it will mean a season that had been going so well just ended with a whimper. At the start of March, they were still in the Heineken Cup and stood on top of the Rabo table having only lost two games. Between the two competitions, they’ve lost five games out of their last nine since then.

Part of it obviously was trying to keep going on two fronts at the same time. A bit like Liverpool in the Premiership, a team like Glasgow have been able to concentrate on the Rabo without any European distractions. Every week since the Six Nations, they’ve been able to work together consistently without any real disruption to their squad.

Munster haven’t had that luxury , neither have Ulster or Leinster, but we’ll get onto them in a minute – and it has really tested their resources. The simple truth is that they just don’t have the depth at the minute to be able to compete properly in both competitions.

The deflation after going out of the Heineken has played a part too. Even when I was playing, switching focus back to the league after going out of Europe was always difficult. That’s probably even more the case now, especially in a season Munster were top of the league in March and pretty much guaranteed a spot in the play-offs from a good distance out.

The poor results in recent weeks just go to show that you will only get away with playing poorly for so long. You can scrape through matches, you can get a bit of luck but eventually over the course of a league, you will be found wanting.

Peaked too early
Teams who win competitions peak at this time of year and by the look of Munster recently, they peaked too early. The best rugby they played was obviously in the Heineken Cup quarter-final against Toulouse. Since then, they’ve only beaten Connacht and Edinburgh. The season has just drifted away from them.

There’s been no real fluency in their backline in recent weeks and decision-making has been a constant problem. Depth has been a problem with their backs, whereas actually it’s been okay in their forwards. They’ve had a lot of possession but haven’t made enough of it. Maybe it’s a mental problem or maybe it’s just a quality issue – whatever the reason, they’ve been heading in the wrong direction at the wrong time of the year.

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.
From Monday 20th October 2014 we're changing how readers sign-in to comment, click here for more information.