How do you deal with a record defeat? The answer is simple – use it.
Ulster have no other option.
The players know exactly how the fans feel because they too will feel absolutely gutted with the performance in Munster. They’ll know they didn’t go to Thomond under any pressure or weight of expectation they’d win – but they also know that no commentator and no fan expected the defeat they suffered to be of such magnitude.
I don’t buy the argument about age. One of the youngest players in the pack Adam McBurney showed maybe the most fight despite what was happening around him. I believe that maybe subconsciously this team expects to be bullied. Maybe it stems back to the Les Kiss pre-match narrative in his media slots – always talking up the opposition. Maybe it is the constant reporting of a young pack or a light pack – let’s start changing the mindset to an aggressive pack, an abrasive pack and a hard pack.
Maybe we need to focus on the psychology of the team and the players. What are the management’s expectations for Friday’s visit of Connacht? What are the fans? We know it’s going to be tough and we know any sort of win would be a great result – but what should be the expectations?
I’ve only one ask of the players. Go out and show your home fans, your local fans, your friends, your family and your neighbours, that as a team you’ll not be pushed around – collectively you’ll be doing the bullying. And apply two rules, do your best and never give up. With those you can rarely go wrong.
Show fight in the first five minutes and the Ravenhill fans will roar you on for the next seventy-five plus. We know the scrum still misfires and the lineout can be marmite at times, but let’s not be thrown by events, let’s adapt and just keep going.
Before the start of the season, had Ulster been offered three wins a draw and a single defeat from their first five games, many would have taken it.
Those early wins were achieved by fine margins and a resilient never give up mentality. So, let’s see this team use the Munster defeat and use every minute of play left this season to take back the points of that record defeat. Ulster can show courage by not losing heart.
Let the shame of Munster sow the seeds of improvement, resilience and stubbornness. It shouldn’t matter what fifteen home players stand on the pitch at Ravenhill because the expectation should be the same – be a dog and give the people watching something to go home feeling proud of – no more, no less.
There is no better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance next time.
Watch the Heineken Champions Cup Final live on RugbyPass throughout Asia and Australia.