“The Munster team wouldn’t be the force it is today only for the AIL”
Wise words from former Ireland team manager Brian O’Brien. I found myself stumbling across Munster Rugby: A Limerick Love Affair last night by Ronan Cassidy, a documentary screened a few years back and given Munster’s current state and troubles it has an eery feel about it.
“I think it’s important that the structures are carefully looked at so the club game continues to flourish and there isn’t a drop off in the feed because that’s where Munster are going to draw the majority of their players” – Jerry Flannery
“The clubs have had a very proactive structure about developing their game within the club then Munster came in on top of it and in a sense took all that good work but didn’t replace it” – Liam Toland
“For rugby to develop you do need strong provinces but you also need the feeding system which is the clubs” – David Wallace
“The IRFU have to figure out a mechanism to keep the clubs as the building block of Irish Rugby” – Liam Toland
The documentary was released in 2011 with the interviews taking place not long before it. Munster were still flying high boasting seasoned internationals like David Wallace, Alan Quinlan, Jerry Flannery, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Marcus Horan and John Hayes. The golden era- all these players came through and praised the club system.
Looking back watching it now you can finally see what these former coaches and players were forecasting. If the club game is not restored, if the infrastructure is not put in place – Munster will decline. Fast forward to 2016 and we have a Munster team that is in tatters. At the time of the documentary they still had most of the golden era and now that they have all hung up their boots we really see the void that has been coming.
It’s a fascinating documentary and would recommend you watch the entire piece, but fast forward to the 23 minute mark to see the part about the club game and it’s decline.