Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus described the small details which things which made Saturday’s visit of Glasgow difficult, a day after former captain Anthony Foley was laid to rest.
As the European Champions Cup remembered Foley before all games this weekend, Munster supporters held aloft placards spelling out his jersey number and nickname “AXEL’. The name was sewn into the Munster player’s jerseys and afterwards Foley’s sons, Tony and Dan joined the team on the field to sing ‘Stand Up and Fight’. It was an emotional day for all involved with Munster rugby. Their director of rugby included.
“The tough things are the small things,” said Erasmus post match. “You get into the bus to the field, Axel’s seat is there. You get into the changing room, all the little things that remind you.
“Then you get out to the field and the Munster people, the Irish people, do things that are very personal, with so much emotion and then I wasn’t sure how that would impact on everyone, from the opposition to us, so I am relieved the guys handled it like that.”
On the field, players were overcome by emotion before and after the game as they sang the Munster anthem. The emotion carried over into an impressive performance on the field as Munster ran in five tries. Despite speaking to the players ahead of the game, Erasmus didn’t know how the players would react to the loss of Foley.
“I feel relieved because of the unknown element about the week. The territory we got into this week and circumstances, different things, I did not know, myself, how we would react, how the players would react, even the referee or the opposition.
“It was such a weird week which you can’t really prepare for. Even with the warm-up I wasn’t even sure what we would get out of this. We had a good chat last night and this morning about what we were going to try and achieve, not even result-wise, but more the way we wanted to play.
“I was expecting that would come through, but not in such a mature way, for the players to do it so quickly after something tragic that happened to Axel (Anthony Foley), so I am relieved.”
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