Munster head coach Graham Rowntree believes the inclusion of South African sides in the United Rugby Championship (URC) has been “excellent” for the competition.
Speaking after his team’s epic win over the Stormers that secured the Irish province a first title in 12 years, Rowntree was asked his view on the changes.
Two seasons ago the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers were added to the URC in a move that divided many due largely to logistical issues it might cause.
Rowntree on South African sides
In the maiden campaign it was an all-South African final between the Bulls and Stormers, which the latter won, while this year the Stormers made the final.
When quizzed about the addition of the South African quartet to the competition, the head coach was firm in his stance that it had “boosted” the tournament.
“I think the inclusion of the South African teams has been excellent for the competition. Look at the Stormers last year. It’s a challenge, everyone’s got to come down here for a couple of games,” he told Irish Rugby’s website.
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“Fortunately for us, the last time we were down here we picked up a win against the Stormers and drew with the Sharks, which probably saved our season, particularly in terms of European qualification.
“I think the inclusion of the South African teams has really boosted the quality of the competition.”
South Africa has proved a happy hunting ground for Munster in recent months as their excellent record in the Republic gave their season a shot in the arm.
What made the title win all the more special was that thousands of Munster fans made the journey to Cape Town, which Rowntree was quick to appreciate.
Delighted for Munster fans
“The Red Army that followed us here, unbelievable. I mean we drove into the stadium and there’s a Red Army of flags waiting for us on the road outside. So I’m delighted for those people. We did it for them,” he added.
“The game itself, I’m proud of the lads. We’ve done it tough. Our sixth game away from home, to come and do this…the places we’ve gone and the performances we’ve put in, without being perfect. We’re still growing our game.
“But we always stick in the game, and we showed that at the end there against some adversity (going down to 14 men). I’m unbelievably proud for everyone that’s involved with this prestigious team that is Munster Rugby.”