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Graham Rowntree perplexed by Munster Champions Cup flop

By Ian Cameron
Munster captain Tadhg Beirne speaks to referee Mathieu Raynal during the Investec Champions Cup Pool 3 Round 2 match between Exeter Chiefs and Munster at Sandy Park in Exeter, England. (Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster head coach Graham Rowntree expressed his ‘huge’ frustration following his team’s 32-24 defeat to Exeter Chiefs in the Investec Champions Cup.

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Despite leading 24-13 after 65 minutes, Munster could not withstand a strong comeback from Exeter. Henry Slade was pivotal for the Chiefs, contributing 17 points through a try, three conversions, and two penalties, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of over 13,000 at Sandy Park.

Exeter’s victory was marked by tries from Dan Frost, Jack Dunne, Ross Vintcent, and Slade, showcasing their resilience and ability to rally late in the game. This follows their narrow 19-18 win against Toulon last week, also clinched by a last-minute effort from Slade.

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Munster’s performance featured tries from Tom Ahern, Calvin Nash, Antoine Frisch, and Shane Daly, with Jack Crowley adding two conversions.

Rowntree cut an agitated figure at the post-match press conference. Despite securing a bonus point and initially dominating, Rowntree lamented the game’s shift against Munster. He highlighted the third try from Exeter as a turning point, describing it as “crazy” and “against the run of play.”

“I’m hugely frustrated and need to calm down and have another look at some of the crucial incidents.

“We scored some cracking tries to get a bonus point and get on top of them but the game got away from us and it shows that the game is never over.

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“The third try from the bouncing ball was just crazy and was against the run of play.

“As far as this competition is concerned, we’ll see how the cards develop as we still have Toulon away and (Northampton) Saints at home, but we are the world specialists in making life difficult for ourselves.”

additional reporting PA

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finn 10 hours ago
Massive red flag raised by weakened Champions Cup teams – Andy Goode

I wonder if the problem of some teams not taking it that seriously would be helped by making performance in the champions cup count towards qualification and/or seeding in the following year’s competition. Eg. top four seeds would be winners of the URC, premiership, and top 14, plus best performing team in the previous year’s CC who have not otherwise qualified. Doing that the seedings for this years comp. would have been: Tier one: Saracens - Munster - Toulouse - la Rochelle Tier two: Sale - Stormers - Racing 92 - Leinster Tier three: Leicester - Connacht - Bordeaux - Exeter Tier four: Northampton - Ulster - Lyon - Sharks Tier five: Harlequins - Glasgow - Stade Francais - Edinburgh Tier six: Bath - Bulls - Toulon - Ospreys The competition would probably work better with fewer teams, so I’d probably favour only the first 4 tiers being invited, and then going straight to a quarter final without a round of 16. On the one hand this would possibly incentivise teams to take the champions cup seriously, and on the other it would mean that the latter stages would be more likely to involve teams that have demonstrated a willingness to take the competition seriously. The main differences between my proposed system and the actual draw is that mine would give la Rochelle a fairly easy ride to the quarters, and would either exclude the Bulls entirely or would give then an insurmountably difficult draw. As it happened Exeter got quite an easy pool draw but that was a bit of a fluke. My system would reward Exeter for being one of the teams that demonstrably devote a lot of attention to the CC by guaranteeing them a good draw.

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