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How Glasgow 'weapon' forced a 'change of philosophy' from Munster

Jack Crowley, left, and Tadhg Beirne of Munster during the United Rugby Championship match between Munster and Glasgow Warriors at Musgrave Park in Cork. (Photo By Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

It has been pitched as a “grudge match” and it is clear that Glasgow Warriors are in the process of talking themselves up in terms of revenge ahead of this weekend’s Vodacom United Rugby Championship semifinal against defending champions Munster in Limerick.


But Munster coach Graham Rowntree is having none of it, not taking the bait and rather focusing on getting his side within 80 minutes of being repeat champions.

The rivalry was highlighted again by a BBC interview over the weekend where former Scotland prop Peter Wright made it clear there was no love lost between the two sides.

“It will be good to go there and beat them in their own backyard and I think they can do that. What better way to get to a final,” said Wright.

“You want to get a little bit of revenge, but that’ll take care of itself because they hate us – Glasgow and Munster hate each other massively. That’s gone on for years.”

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Rowntree, however, refused to be drawn into the obvious mind games ahead of the clash, preferring to treat it as just another big game.

“I’ve seen that. I’ve tasted it. I’ve tasted it myself,” he says. “You know it’s knock-out rugby, it’s another huge game for us at Thomond Park. We know the support and the pressure that brings. Luckily what we learned last year of our composure and playoff rugby, we’ll treat it as the next big game. What we can do to influence that and what we got to be good at to stop them influencing the game on us, that’s it.


“It’s just a huge game for us. It’s what you play rugby for, isn’t it? Pressure moments, high-stake games, the physical battles, it’s huge, and it’s exciting.”

Rowntree has a marked respect for South African-born coach Franco Smith, who has transformed Glasgow since his arrival. The Scottish side has one of the best mauls in the business, while also boasting the tournament’s top try scorer as well.

“They’ve got the full package,” says Rowntree. “They can play, they’re dangerous on the edge of the field, they kick a lot less than most teams. They have a dangerous breakdown, and they come here with – reading between the lines – quite a gnarly attitude, similar to us on the road last year. We spoke about that mindset this week. That’s what we’re waiting for.”

It is no surprise that Rowntree remembers the match against the Warriors in March 2023 as the turning point for Munster that kickstarted their run to the win in the final in Cape Town. Glasgow had a superb first half that left Munster reeling.


“28-0 at half time, wasn’t it? I’ll never forget that dressing room,” Rowntree remembers, and the effect it had on the team’s fortunes to turn it around after that.

“The term I’ve used widely, it gave us a punch in the nose.

“Certainly, defensively, we changed some key elements of our game and how we were training which stood to us. I say stood to us, we went to Durban and got beat by the Sharks the week after, but I look back at what we learned, and it has stood to us since then,” he added.

Rowntree’s side beat Glasgow in last season’s quarterfinal and then again in the league game this season when the two sides met in Cork. In that game Glasgow scored no less than five maul tries, proving to be Munster’s kryptonite and while they won, Rowntree is certain they will use the same tactics again.

“They certainly still have that weapon. The tries they’ve scored in the URC from the set-piece pay testament to that.


“That game in Cork was the first of December, we conceded more than we should have, and it made us have a change of philosophy in how we were defending mauls.”

While Munster haven’t been as fluid this year, they still find a way to win games, something that has pleased Rowntree, who also concedes that his team will need to improve if they are to make the final.

“Our last three games, going back to the Edinburgh game as well, changed in different ways,” he explained.

“Different circumstances around the breakdown…I think the last five metres of our game, five metres before their try line, we got to be better there. We got a bit frustrated there in the last quarter against Ospreys last week, so we’ve had a good look at that, what we’re doing there because it’s a usual strength of ours.

“I’d say the game now is not getting frustrated by lack of scoring tries, stay in the moment, take shots at goal if you can, to relieve pressure because it is knock-out rugby. We know we haven’t been the finished article but we have found a way to win difficult games. Not being the finished article, we’ve found a way to keep our composure.”

And that may be the difference between the sides this weekend. And whether Munster have it in them to repeat their epic URC tournament victory of last season.



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Declan 33 days ago

Too tight to call but home advantage may count.

Ed the Duck 34 days ago

Lazy journalism from whoever wrote this guff! Peter Wright is a rent-a-gob former Edinburgh player who tries to stay relevant by stirring the pot. More insightful to note Glasgow coach Pete Murchie’s comments “…it was mainly Ryan [Wilson] who was the protagonist. These things come and go with sets of players retiring and whatnot. You're actually looking at quite a long time ago now since there was that particular needle. It's a big game in its own right, forgetting whatever's happened in the past. It's a new set of players, they're not thinking about those things that may or may not have gone on."

Having cleared that up, it’s set up to be a cracking match that genuinely could go either way. Do feel that Munster are favourites though, they have a real knack of grinding out the win when the pressure is on…

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Mzilikazi 4 hours ago
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Nice article, Brett, and good to be writing about a second win. I think Georgia will be far more testing. Tbh, I have not looked at their touring squad, but at full strength they are a far better and more dangerous team than they were at RWC France. They would have been disappointed they did not perform to full potential there. I think that the WB’s under Joe Schmidt have started soundly. Recovery from a serious setback always takes time. And the Jones era was that and more. I think the arrival of Les Kiss back to his native Qld. is a very positive factor, and the fact that he and Schmidt know each other well is a help. Players I think are much improved this year: Daugunu, who has blossomed with the Rebels, so credit to the coaching unit down there. Am pleased he will come back to the Reds. McReight is said to have put on up to 7 kgs since last season. His work rate has always been good, but it is his carrying into contact that has gone up. Now makes those critical one or two metres post contact very often. Is conceding fewer penalties now as his game matures. Rob Valetini was good last year, but is now a greater force this one. A really punishing ball carrier. Hunter Paisami is now a more controlled player. His carrying into contact is very impressive for an 80 kg man. Interestingly, if you saw Nick Bishops latest article, he has a team for RC with Kerevi at 12. Also Skelton in the team. Not sure if there will be o’seas players as early as RC though….but need them in by the EYOT games.

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