On a sultry warm June afternoon, news filtered through from Munster Rugby head office on the coaching lineup for the forthcoming season. It confirmed the demotion of Anthony Foley to the role of line out and breakdown supremo which looks quite the fall from grace. Jerry Flannery continues his tenure as scrum coach for another twelve months, an area which struggled massively last season.
The new indigenous coaching addition comes in the form of Felix Jones who is now a “technical” coach, a coach without portfolio it seems. Jones will be a good addition but given his friendship with the majority of the current playing squad, it remains to be seen where Jones fits into the coaching ticket.
The major announcement was two fold really with the first one not a genuine with the news that Brian Walsh leaving the club, the second was more significant with the arrival of Jacques Nienaber as new defensive coach. His resume includes roles in physiotherapy and strength and conditioning with Currie Cup and Super Rugby sides Cheetahs and Cats culminating in his current role with the SARU as head of performance.
A welcome addition but whether Rassie and Jacques have any resources to invest a squad which requires revamp in the front row, second row, fly-half and three quarters. If no money is available to the new incumbent South African coaching ticket, Munster fans should be worried that the club has not yet hit rock bottom.
Three year programme and suspect that next season will be a transitional period for club, coaching and playing staff. Munster support must remain patient but the head office must clarify the financial and long terms plans for the club. Facilities have being built but there are worrying tones about the financial plight of the club.
Are the IRFU baling Munster RFU out at present? If so, what is the extent of those payments? The new coaching ticket from South Africa which is joining the club is welcome but it feels like nothing else has changed in the culture of the club. Hope to be proved wrong in that assertion but it is just my gut feel on the plight of the club.
The Ireland U20 historic win against New Zealand today showed that the new kids have immense ability. Munster’s contingent played their part. Betts at prop will be in the senior squad next season. Johnston and Daly were exciting with ball in hand and coupled with the likes of Sean O’Connor, Vincent O’Brien and Kelvin Brown in the squad will mean that when back to Munster fold that they are evaluated and if good enough are integrated into the senior squad. Interesting times for Munster. Hopefully, Rassi and Jacques ruffle a few feathers in the Munster nest. It is the bare minimum that is required from the new arrivals.