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Desperation derby beckons as sluggish Connacht and Munster are already playing catch-up

Ruaidhri O'Connor


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Munster's head coach Graham Rowntree. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Munster's head coach Graham Rowntree. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Munster's head coach Graham Rowntree. Photo: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

IT IS a measure of the impact of the South African teams on the United Rugby Championship (URC) that for two of the Irish provinces this is a defining week.

The decision of the organisers to reduce the number of games across the season to 18 and remove meritocracy for Heineken Champions Cup qualification has put the squeeze on these teams early. From next season, the tournament will revert to having the top eight teams qualifying for what was once the European Cup, but under a compromise reached for the first two seasons against the provinces and the IRFU’s wishes, the provinces are under huge pressure this year.


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