MUNSTER head coach Johann van Graan was extremely emotional in the aftermath of Munster’s agonising shootout loss to Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, in a tie that saw him involved in Europe with Munster for the final time.
“Firstly, I’m incredibly proud. Today was what Munster rugby is about. To lose it like that, that’s unfortunately sport, that’s the way the rules are. Somebody’s got to kick it over and somebody’s got to miss.
“If ever there’s a day to sum up Munster rugby, it’s today. A community of 40,000 people travelling. It was certainly one of the best rugby games I’ve been involved with.
“I said to my wife there from a feeling point of view, this was like the World Cup semi-final in 2015 that I was involved with that we lost 20-18 against the All Blacks. That feeling that we gave it all we’ve got, the players gave it all they’ve got. Management, staff, the people of Munster gave it all they’ve got.
“We’ve got to know that this is a game.
“We left the hotel saying, ‘To the brave and faithful, nothing is impossible’ and I think the way that our captain Peter O’Mahony played, literally when his body couldn’t anymore. Then Jack Daly coming on to make his European debut in that cauldron.
“The tough thing is, great game of rugby, could have won it in the final play of the game, had one or two opportunities, but it’s gone now. The sun will come up tomorrow morning.”
Ultimately it was the unfortunate Ben Healy and Conor Murray that ended up missing the kicks that proved the difference, but van Graan was adamant that the entire squad were in it together.
“They’re obviously gutted, but as I said a few weeks ago we’re all in and we win together and lose together.
“We actually spoke in the week about the possibilities of extra time, the number of tries, and we were prepared for it. It comes down to literally a kick.
“A horrible way for the game to end from a Munster perspective, but Toulouse are one of the true great European clubs, all credit to them.”