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Munster make Final Preparations
12 December 2003, 12:58 pm
The Munster players and management woke up to a grey overcast morning at their Mercure hotel which is located just off the Grenoble motorway about twenty minutes from the Stade Pierre Rajon.
The Munster players and management woke up to a grey overcast morning at their Mercure hotel which is located just off the Grenoble motorway about twenty minutes from the Stade Pierre Rajon.

Weather conditions haven t changed from when they arrived in the region on Thursday evening and it is expected to be dry and cold this evening when they take on Bourgoin in the opening round of this year s Heineken Cup. Last time they played here was back in 1997/98 when they were beaten 21-6, a season that saw Munster finish third in their group behind Harlequins and Cardiff.

That was an occasion Ronan O Gara remembers well. I was just coming into the squad. That day in Bourgoin I came on as a sub, KK (Killian Keane) was out-half and I can still remember the noise of the crowd. It was constant throughout the game. Since then that part of the French scene has become usual. The supporters are unbelievable.

They really get behind the team. But I think it s great. It all adds to the atmosphere. This time around the feeling among locals is that this game gives the home side a marvelous opportunity to topple one of the most respected sides in rugby while at the same time launching a serious assault on their efforts to reach the knock-out stages.

Pascal Lemoine who runs a little cafe close to the stadium in Bourgoin spoke in glowing terms of Munster s standing among French rugby supporters. Muunster are such a great side. They came to our attention here in France firstly when they defeated Stade Toulousain in Bordeaux. I was at that game that day because my wife is from there.

It was a great match and Munster played with such bravery. Of course since then they have come here and won many times and so French people have great respect for them.

However, Lemoine is a committed Bourgoin supporter and thinks his side can pull off a famous victory.

Yes, I think we can win this. Saint-Andre, he is a clever coach and the side has done very well since he returned. Of course it will be very difficult but our team has performed very well this season. They are a very united side and they will need no encouragement to win this game. If we can do that, who knows ? We certainly need fear no other side.

Munster completed their preparation with the normal run through of their line-out calls beside the hotel at 2pm and will leave for the ground at 4.30pm.

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