With the recent announcement for plans for a new state of the art international rugby experience and visitor centre in Limerick, a project headed up by Paul O’Connell, it’s a good time to look back over a few of the key moments in history for Munster Rugby and the sport in Limerick…
Beating the All Blacks, 1978
We don’t know if you’ve ever heard about this, or if any Munster fan has happened to mention it once or twice, but back in 1978 Munster defeated the mighty New Zealand All Blacks, in a match that was to become a critically acclaimed play written by Limerick’s own John Breen, as well as the subject of a stirring Guinness advert in 2015. It was a very different team culture in those days; they were amateur sportsmen with full time jobs, many had grown up together, and in terms of ability, even their biggest supporters would have had very little hope. What came to pass is now part of Irish sport folklore – Munster beat by All-Blacks by 12-0 in front of a crowd of 12,000 people. It was the only time the All-Blacks had lost to any Irish side at the time.
Miracle Match v Gloucester
One of the most notable moments from Munster Rugby’s European success is so called miracle match at Thomond Park in 2003. In order to qualify for the knock out stages of the Heineken Cup, they had to win by what would have appeared to have been an impossible margin: four tries and 27 points. Not to mention that Gloucester were no walkover opponents – Munster may have been in form but Gloucester were riding high themselves in England. Amazingly, they pulled it off, with Ronan O’Gara’s converted try in 80th minute bringing them to exactly four tries and 27 points.
Remembering Anthony Foley
It was a tragic cutting short of a life that had been so dedicated to Munster Rugby over many years. The outpouring of emotion that followed showed not only the strength of community and connection that exists amongst Munster fans, but just how important the legacy of the team in in Rugby worldwide. Thomond Park was awash with flowers and tributes after the former player and head coach passed away in Paris while away with the team in October 2016. Opposition teams in subsequent matches all paid their respects with a gesture at the start of the game. One of the most emotional of these was the Maori All Blacks performing a haka and presenting an All Black shirt bearing his name for his sons. The significance Foley’s shirt number 8 was marked by fans by attending a series of eight masses following his death, at the request of his sons.
Article by: Kayleigh Ziolo
Illustration by: Ken Coleman
Sign up to the TLM Newsletter