Munster v South Africa: Team named for historic rugby game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Sell-out crowd of 41,400 will make Thursday's clash the most attended rugby game ever in the province
Munster v South Africa: Team named for historic rugby game at Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Munster’s Shane Daly celebrates scoring a try against Ulster with Mike Haley. Picture:INPHO/James Crombie

MUNSTER'S next URC game is the home fixture against Connacht on November 26, with Thursday’s game against the South Africa XV at Páirc Uí Chaoimh serving as a timely distraction from what has been a difficult start to the Graham Rowntree tenure.

There are no points on offer here. 

This is all about old-fashioned pride and glory, playing the world champions, albeit a second-string version of that, on home soil, in front of your home crowd. This is exactly the type of game that the Munster legend was built upon.

MUNSTER v South Africa XV: 

Mike Haley; Shane Daly, Antoine Frisch, Rory Scannell, Simon Zebo; Ben Healy, Paddy Patterson; Josh Wycherley, Diarmuid Barron, Roman Salanoa; Edwin Edogbo, Kiran McDonald; Jack O’Donoghue (c), John Hodnett, Gavin Coombes.

Replacements: Niall Scannell, Liam O’Connor, Keynan Knox, Cian Hurley, Alex Kendellen, Neil Cronin, Patrick Campbell, Malakai Fekitoa.

Kiran McDonald starts on Thursday. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Kiran McDonald starts on Thursday. Picture: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Anyone with even a passing interest in Munster rugby will be aware of the importance of games against touring sides in terms of formulating the folklore and legend of the province. 

The big one, on 31 October 1978, was the famous 12-0 win over the All Blacks at Thomond Park. 

Books and plays have been written on that one, but it is far from the only big result that Munster has secured in its history against big teams from the southern hemisphere.

The most recent game of this nature that Munster played was against the Maori All Blacks in 2016, which Munster won by 27-14, with tries from Niall Scannell, Darren Sweetnam and Ronan O’Mahony, along with a penalty try, getting the job done. 

In 2008 Munster had come within a whisker of downing New Zealand once more, only to be denied by a late Joe Rokocoko try in a 16-18 loss.

Even pre the ’78 win there had been a 3-3 draw at Musgrave Park to boast about back in 1973, as well as a pair of 3-6 defeats in 1954, at the Mardyke, and 1963, up at Thomond Park.

Australia have been scalped aplenty on Munster soil too. Another 3-3 draw in 1958 was followed by Munster’s first-ever win over one of the big touring nations in 1967 at Musgrave Park, with Munster winning 11-8, and then in 1981 the Wallabies were defeated again at the Cork venue, this time by 15-6. 

Fast forward then to 1992 and Musgrave Park again, for the famous 22-19 victory, with Jim Galvin kicking the famous drop goal at the death to win it. 

And last, but not least, there was the 2010 fixture at Thomond Park, where once again Munster triumphed on a 15-6 scoreline.

All famous results, for sure, but there is one thing missing from the Munster giant killing CV – a win over South Africa.

One of the reasons for this has been lack of opportunity, as there have only been three historic clashes between the sides, with the last of these being 52 years ago. 

The issue of apartheid and the boycott of sporting teams from South Africa from 1981 until 1992, and the international pressure that had proceeded this for years, certainly had a part to play in the lack of fixtures.

For the record, the three games were the 1951 fixture at Thomond Park that ended 6-11, the 1960 encounter at Musgrave Park, which Munster lost by 3-9, and the last time the two sides locked horns, in 1970, when South Africa easily won at Thomond on a scoreline of 9-25.

A lot has been made of the huge injury crisis that has befallen the Munster squad so far this year. 

A quick look at last Saturday’s Test match between Ireland and the Springboks at the Aviva Stadium would make you think that, given the scale of the collisions in that game, Munster’s injury list is likely to be even bigger after 80 minutes of crashing into 23 South Africans.

While the South African side will be a second-string outfit we can expect the same levels of physicality that all Springbok sides bring to the table. Munster have struggled in the contact areas so far this season in the URC and their maul was taken apart in their last league game by Ulster, so we can safely assume that the set pieces are areas where the South Africa XV will go after Munster tonight.

With a big injury list, and with the internationals away, it feels like anyone not injured gets a game for Munster right now. 

This should be one of those great Munster rugby nights, albeit in extremely unfamiliar surroundings, which in itself should add to the occasion.

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