THE Red Army has arrived en masse here in Marseille and the legions of travelling Munster supporters are quietly confident that Rob Penney’s side can battle their way to victory.
Over 8,000 fans have descended upon the French city ahead of the Heineken Cup semi-final clash against reigning champions Toulon and the revellers were out in force this morning soaking up the atmosphere.
The host town’s famous seaside port was awash with red jerseys, with early risers spilling in and out of the local cafes and boulangeries before making their way to one of the three well-known Irish pubs to start making predictions about the crucial game this afternoon.
Patricia Lynch and daughter Nessa Harney, from Limerick, travel to every Munster match and told Independent.ie was there “no chance” they could miss out on the momentous occasion.
“We’re broke now, our hotel room is tiny, but we there was no way we weren’t coming,” Patricia said.
“We’re looking forward to it, it’ll be tough going, but the lads can pull through.”
Tipperary friends Ben Fetherstone, Josh Fetherstone and Darren Lowry arrived in Marseille after catching a bus, two flights and a train.
“It’ll be a difficult task, but as long as we put it to the Toulon boys early on, we can win,” Darren said.
The team, who are staying near the port, enjoyed a relaxed morning in their hotel. Following a light training session yesterday they ventured out to greet fans around the city.
Injured Munster player Peter O’Mahony will be watching on from the stands in the Stade Velodrome.
As he will not take to the field, the sports star was allowed a few drinks in the build up over the weekend and mingled with the supporters on Friday.
In the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France after a pool section which Dante could not adequately explain away, England, the defending champions, suddenly found themselves one match away from the final. I say suddenly because they looked like they had just woken up to the possibility.
Bernard Laporte, the coach of Toulon, is seeing the bigger picture these days. It is the view he has of his team from a seat on high – far, that is, above the touchline from which he is banned for 16 weeks. He made a few choice observations on the performance of the French referee Pierre Cardona beginning with a "useless", progressing to a "completely incompetent", and rounding off with a "he robs us every time".