Monday 19 February 2018

Rassie Erasmus pays emotional tribute to Munster and Ireland as he bids farewell

Zebo proves his worth as Munster give Erasmus the perfect send-off

Simon Zebo of Munster celebrates after scoring the second try against the Dragons at Irish Independent Park
Simon Zebo of Munster celebrates after scoring the second try against the Dragons at Irish Independent Park
Simon Zebo has plenty to smile about after going over for Munster’s second try at Irish Independent Park last night. Photo: Sportsfile
David Kelly

David Kelly

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus will have had more difficulty clearing his desk this week than his side did in despatching Dragons 49-6 in his final game as head coach before leaving to lead his native South Africa.

And he bade an emotional farewell to the Munster faithful at Irish Independent Park, insisting that he has left the province in "pretty good shape" before South African compatriot Johann van Graan is handed the baton next week.

"I've definitely enjoyed my time here," Erasmus said. "This has been the best 18 months of my life, not just in rugby. I've learned so much from Irish people.

"I will treasure these days for the rest of my life. And the performance was wonderful to sign off with.

"It is going to be hard to leave Ireland because this country has been good to myself and (defence coach) Jacques Nienaber. He doesn't always get the chance to talk to the media but he feels that too.

"We have been on our own together this week and we have shared so many memories.

"I've learned so much here. The players have showed me what professionalism means, the Munster culture is amazing. It is a privilege for them and not just their jobs.

"Irish sides all have that, they may not have 400 players but they have 160 quality players and that is why they set the standard.

Rassie Erasmus
Rassie Erasmus

"The supporters here are passionate and always support you in a tough time and I would like to be a fan like that. I've learned a lot.

"Munster have always been a great club, they just had a couple of shaky years. We've done lots of things to move into the future, changing to one training centre and it bodes well for the future.

We are moving in the right direction and in good shape and the Leicester games (in the Champions Cup) will be important in November. I think we are sitting pretty.

"We stuck at it tonight and everybody eventually got in on the action. It was wonderful for guys like Robin Copeland to play like that."

Dragons head coach, the former Irish international Bernard Jackman, had expected the worst last night despite Munster's transition.

"Munster have always been a strong team. There's an identity here, good structure, passion and a following. They're well on the road and we admire them. He steadied the ship, put good systems in place."

"It's a massive challenge for the new guy and I imagine he won't change much, retaining most of the coaching staff. If they keep on top of what they are doing, I'm sure they can beat anyone in Europe."

"We were afraid that might happen. We had to be accurate but we weren't. We were disappointed with how we played. If we take a few guys out of our team, we are rudderless and lack nous," Jackman added.

"We gave five guys their debut and we got exposed against a Munster side away from home, That's the reality. They didn't look like we were at the level. They weren't able to execute but I know they're better than that.

"We've got to change it or change them. Someone has to be accountable, starting with me. But they'll get another chance in the Anglo-Welsh Cup next week."

Irish Independent

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