Sport Munster Rugby

Friday 29 August 2014

Munster to make Pro12 top priority next season – Fitzgerald

John Fallon

Published 22/05/2014 | 02:30

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Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald will work on getting fans to buy into the Pro12 league campaign next season. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE
Munster CEO Garrett Fitzgerald will work on getting fans to buy into the Pro12 league campaign next season. Photo: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Munster's focus under Anthony Foley is to change significantly from next season with much more emphasis on the Pro12, according to chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald.

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The Munster CEO said they would be targeting success in the league as the top priority, given the structure will now decide who qualifies for the Rugby Champions Cup, with just one Irish side guaranteed qualification.

"You don't go into Europe unless you perform in the Rabo. Before you could go to sleep, get up in the morning and you would still be in Europe. It's now a challenge and is based on meritocracy with slight deviations at the end of it.

"The domestic league has to be your priority, that's your bread and butter, that's what you have to do. It will be a much better Pro12. The Rabo determines whether you get into Europe and your position will determine your seeding, your historical performance in Europe won't make any difference.

"We probably have too much of an emphasis in Irish rugby on the Heineken Cup and the new Champions Cup. At the end of the day it is six matches in the season, we play 22 in the Pro12."

SUCCESS

Munster will work hard on getting fans to buy into the league, with a big emphasis being placed on the competition shaping the success or otherwise of their season.

"You have to try to develop an atmosphere and a product, into something they want to go to and enjoy going to, that's the challenge for us," said Fitzgerald.

The Munster chief said that they did not set out to appoint an all-Irish coaching team for next season, but he is pleased that the management are all steeped in the game in the province.

He confirmed that Eddie O'Sullivan had been interviewed for the backs coach position and that the former Irish boss had indicated to them that he had other opportunities in the offing.

Fitzgerald said that they would again look after naming rights for Thomond Park in a bid to raise finance, while he also disclosed that the redevelopment of Musgrave Park is due to get under way shortly and will be completed by December.

However, the development of the permanent training facility at University of Limerick had suffered a six-month delay as it was decided to change the plans and that facility will not become available until January 2016.

Meanwhile, Fitzgerald confirmed that Munster have completed their signings for next season and centre James Downey is leaving. It is believed that he is poised to join either Bayonne or Brive in France.

Foley's first match in charge will be away to Gloucester on the second last weekend in August and his first home match will be on August 29.

Irish Independent

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