Munster have just turned themselves into an electronic sport’s franchise, inking a partnership with Phelan Gaming who will now compete as Munster Rugby Gaming in forthcoming tournaments. Founded in 2016 by Ciaran Walsh, Phelan Gaming is reputedly Ireland’s most successful esports team.

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They primarily focus on League of Legends, the most popular online game in the world, and in 2019 they finished third in the UK and Ireland League of Legends League.

Esports is among the fastest-growing sports globally – it has even secured a demonstration slot at the 2024 Olympics in Paris – and it has left Munster keen on getting a slice of the action during the global stoppage of live rugby due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Ireland players Jack Carty and Jordi Murphy take part in the RugbyPass FIFA charity tournament

Munster CEO Ian Flanagan said: “Esports attracts a huge global audience of supporters and players both young and not so young.

“In seeking new ways to bring Munster to a wider audience at home and abroad, we identified the strong performances of Phelan Gaming and were excited to be able to partner with them and feel there is great potential for all involved. We’re delighted to be one of the first rugby clubs in the world to establish a presence in esports.”

Enda Lynch, Munster head of enterprise, added: “Munster constantly explore ways in which we can bring our brand and high-performance knowhow to new opportunities for our supporters and commercial partners. At its peak, esports participants require physical and mental attributes fit for high performing environments.

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“We are excited to be bringing both this knowledge and our brand strengths to the partnership with Ciaran and the Munster Rugby Gaming team. Many of our supporters are already active gamers and we look forward to their sharing in Munster Rugby Gaming’s fortunes when the action commences this June.”

Phelan Gaming CEO Walsh said: “We have been keen to expand beyond our established esports audience in Ireland and the UK and wanted to partner with a respected club with a passionate supporter base in order to achieve that.

“We believe that with Munster, we have found the perfect partner to Stand Up and Fight with, not only in Ireland and the UK but on a global scale.”

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