Wednesday 20 March 2019

'Watching the games on TV is armchair stuff' - Anthony Foley bemoans sparse home attendance

Munster head coach Anthony Foley
Munster head coach Anthony Foley
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster coach Anthony Foley has admitted his disappointment with recent attendances at his side's home games and has urged the crowds to return ahead of the start of their European campaign against Treviso.

Last Friday night's thrilling 32-28 victory over Ulster was watched by just 7,200 at Thomond Park and Foley acknowledged that a 6pm kick-off made it difficult for some supporters to make the game.

A Pro12 official confirmed to the Irish Independent that the scheduling was made with the view that Ireland could potentially have been playing in a World Cup third/fourth place play-off later that night.

"It is disappointing the crowd was what it was," Foley (above) said. "That umbilical chord has always been there between Munster and our supporters. It's important people come and support us.

"You've got to come and sample it. Watching it on TV is only armchair stuff - you've got to come here and feel it.


"It's important for Limerick that everyone comes out and supports the game. It's a big stadium that needs filling and it's a great atmosphere."

When asked if he hoped that a cracking nine-try feast would help bring the crowds back to Thomond Park, Foley responded: "I hope so because we go on the road next week and then we've Treviso here and that's a big start for us.

"I think it was well flagged. I think six o'clock on a Friday is hard for people to get from work to the ground with traffic and whatever. It's important everyone buys into it - businesses, everyone in the area needs to realise there's a big event in town and go and support it," he added.

Meanwhile, CJ Stander officially became Irish qualified (based on the three-year residency rule) on Friday and he marked the occasion with an excellent performance as captain.

The South African back-row has not yet spoken with Joe Schmidt about a call-up but he could be included when Ireland reconvene just after Christmas.

"It's something I've worked for. Munster put their faith in me and kept me here when I wasn't playing in the first year," Stander maintained.

"I just want to play as good as I can for Munster for now and if I get that call-up one day, it's something that I will push on to and try and do my best for that jersey.

"I've never been this proud in my life to captain Munster. The first year I came, I thought it was tough not playing.

"But I mean, walking into a Munster dressing room and expecting to play when you're just off the boat, you can't do that."

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