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'That's special': Graham Rowntree confirmed as new Munster boss

By Kim Ekin
(Photo by Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Graham Rowntree will officially become the new Munster head coach from July 1 on a two-year deal, the ex-England and Lions front-rower securing a promotion from his current role as forwards coach when Johann van Graan leaves to take over Bath. It was 2019 when the ex-prop moved to Limerick following the completion of his World Cup duties with Georgia.

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Now in his third year in Ireland, the 2015 England World Cup assistant said: “I have made my thoughts about this club widely known throughout my time so far. For me and my family, it really has been an easy decision, a non-decision if truth be told. We have put down roots here and have no desire to move anywhere else.

“I’m hugely honoured to be taking over the role of head coach for a club of this calibre, one that means so much to me and my family. We have thoroughly enjoyed every moment here and I fortunately get to work with an incredible group of staff and players who share a common goal each day in striving for success for this club.

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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots

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Mike Brown | Rugby Roots

I have talked about our fantastic supporters before and again at the weekend we stepped off the bus to a huge red welcome in Exeter. Who doesn’t want to be part of that, that’s special.

“I believe we have the established structures in place with the resources and facilities to match and that it will be a smooth transition for the coaching ticket we assemble in ensuring continued development and success for this club. Before then I have a role to complete this season and working closely with Johann, Steve (Larkham), and JP (Ferreira) is the immediate focus and priority for now.”

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The Munster statement confirming the promotion of Rowntree to head coach read: “With an impressive coaching CV and vast experience, Rowntree previously held coaching roles with the British and Irish Lions, England, Harlequins and Leicester Tigers. Working closely with the IRFU, the province will advance with the next steps in securing the backroom team that will work with Graham from next season as head coach Johann van Graan, senior coach Stephen Larkham and defence coach JP Ferreira depart the province at the end of June.”

IRFU performance director, David Nucifora added: “I would like to thank the Munster professional game committee for their work and diligence during this process. It is important that Munster have someone who understands the unique history and culture of the club and has the experience to maximise the talent in the squad. Graham was very impressive throughout this process and demonstrated he has the capabilities to spearhead the next chapter of Munster.”

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Ian Flanagan, the Munster CEO, said: “Graham’s extensive coaching experience and knowledge of the game makes him the perfect candidate to lead this squad forward. With Graham stepping up at the start of the new season it will be a seamless and natural progression from the work that has been carried out to date.

“For now, we will continue our focus on the remainder of this season with Graham supporting Johann and the coaching staff in achieving our goals.”

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Shaylen 1 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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Jon 7 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

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