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'It's absolute bravery': Munster coach lauds players after URC win

REACTION: Munster head coach Graham Rowntree said Saturday was his “best day ever” as a coach after his team edged the Stormers in a compelling United Rugby Championship Final at Cape Town Stadium.


Flank John Hodnett barged over for a 75th-minute try to give Munster a 19-14 victory over last year’s champions.

The plucky Irish team dominated the first half before a sell-out 56 000 crowd in Cape Town but were only 12-7 ahead at half-time on a slippery pitch.

The Stormers went ahead early in the second half when flyhalf Manie Libbok converted a try by another flank, Deon Fourie.

The home team held the lead for 24 minutes before Libbok had an attempted clearing kick charged down, and the resultant Munster pressure led to Hodnett scoring.

Rowntree, who is in his first season in charge of the Irish province, had assistant coaching gigs in England with Leicester and Harlequins. He was also part of England’s national set-up for a lengthy period and he also had coaching tickets with the British and Irish Lions and Georgia.

Those are a lot of days as a coach, but none of them will come close to Saturday.


“It’s my best ever. It will sink in at some point depending on how much pinotage I drink in the next 12 hours,” Rowntree told reporters after the match.

“It’s my best day ever. Just in the manner in which we have done it. Away from home and not rotating the squad a lot. I am immensely proud.”

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Rowntree hailed his team’s character for staying in the fight in those last few minutes and getting the winning score.

“It’s absolute bravery by staying in the game.

“When it gets tight and the scoreline is close, that is bravery to show that skill level and to get John over the line.

“But all that comes from being battle-hardened and being used to doing that in big games over the last couple of months.”

When the final whistle blew at Cape Town Stadium, cameras showed Rowntree with his head in his hands and he was asked what was going through his mind at that moment.

“It was just emotion,” he answered.

“I was just trying to take it all in if I am honest.

“It was a fraught end to the game there.

“With 15 minutes to go, we had some injuries and we had to make some big decisions.

“It was a quite consuming game, to say the least.”

Additional reporting: AFP

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