Kicking Off In Castres
10th October 2017 By The Editor
Munster open their 2017/18 Champions Cup campaign away to Castres this coming Sunday at 1pm (Irish), the side whom they have faced more than any other since the competition’s inception.
Given that Munster have only once been drawn against the Frenchmen since the European triumphs of 2006 and 2008, it’s perhaps easy to forget that trips to Castres were a regular occurrence in the early days of Europe’s premier rugby competition. In fact, Munster v Castres, alongside Edinburgh v Toulouse, are the most played fixtures in the competition’s history with 12 encounters apiece.
It was in the Occitanie region that the men in red first tasted defeat in Europe, going down 19-12 on just their second Heineken Cup outing having cut their teeth with a 17-13 win over Swansea at Thomond Park the week previous.
Much like Racing this season, Munster and Castes were drawn in the same pool for back to back seasons in 2000/01 and 2001/02, meeting no less than three times in the latter including a famous semi-final win at the Stade de la Méditerranée where an injury time John Kelly try and six penalties from the boot of Ronan O’Gara were enough to see Munster reach their second European final.
The sides would share pools for consecutive seasons again from 2004 through to 2006 and their last stands against each other on the European battlefield took place in the 2011/12 season.
Back then O’Gara was still pulling the strings for the men of Munster and it was his masterful dropgoal at the death that saw Munster defy the odds, again, to leave France with a 24-27 win. Names like Paul O’Connell, Doug Howlett, Donncha O’Callaghan and James Coughlan also took to the field that day, but fast forward to 2017 and all that remains of that visit Castres are Peter O’Mahony and Conor Murray. Burgeoning talents in their respective first and second years with the senior squad that day, the duo have since racked up a lengthy list of provincial and international credentials and now it’s they who lead Munster into a new chapter of their European story with Castres.
Given Munster’s rich history in the competition, nothing stirs the senses of players and fans quite like the Champions Cup. The province have played more matches than any other team, recording 109 wins, one draw and 48 defeats, and this weekend will enter the fray for the 159th time.
Of the 12 encounters with the Top 14 outfit, Munster have taken the spoils on nine occasions but will head for France with ample caution and trepidation given that all three losses to date have occurred on French soil. What’s more, Castres remained undefeated at the Stade Peirre-Antoine in last season’s Champions Cup, including a round 6 draw with Leinster – a result that ultimately cost the eastern province a home semi-final at the Aviva Stadium.
Winning just two from seven in this season’s Top 14 to date, Christophe Urios’ men showed their muscle with a six-point win at home to the always-fancied Clermont in round 6 before suffering defeat away to bottom placed Brive just last weekend. Vern Cotter’s star-studded Montpellier remain the only away side to emerge victorious at Castres so far and make no mistake, Rassie Erasmus’ charges will have their work cut out if they are to become the second.
Castres v Munster, Champions Cup round 1, Sunday October 15th at the Stade Pierre-Antoine, ko 1pm (Irish).
This game will be televised on on Sky Sports.
Munster v Racing 92 Tickets
Europe comes to town when Munster play their first home game of the Champions Cup against Racing 92 on Saturday October 21 at 5.30pm.
- Adults €20
- Juniors €10
- Students €10
Tickets can be purchased online here, from the Munster Rugby Ticket Offices at Irish Independent Park and Thomond Park, or by calling 061 421103
Executive Box and Thomond Suite packages are now sold out for this game
1978 Suite packages remain is available and include:
- East Stand match tickets
- One course meal
- Match programme
- Complimentary drinks
- Preview of the game with Munster Rugby player
For more information and bookings contact Anthony Morrissey on 087 6202530 or click here for a contact form.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) October 1, 2017