All You Need To Know | Munster v Castres
7th December 2018 By The Editor
European rugby returns to Thomond Park this Sunday as Munster host French champions Castres Olympique in the Champions Cup at 1pm.
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See full event information here.
Munster lead Pool 2 having won one and drawn one so far with the the December double-headers set to go a long way towards deciding who will qualify from the Pool.
Top 14 holders Castres are coached by vastly experienced Christophe Urios who featured as a player in the first ever meeting of Munster and Castres in 1996.
Currently lying in seventh place of the Top 14, Castres are among the tightly congested chasing pack behind leaders Clermont Auvergne and second-placed Toulouse.
A bright start to their domestic campaign saw Castres win away at big-spending Montpellier and Toulouse in the opening month of the season.
Their home form was also excellent in the early stages of the campaign but they go into this weekend’s fixture on the back of a surprise 16-13 loss to Agen at Stade Pierre-Fabre.
An impressive start to their European campaign has seen Castres earn a losing bonus point away to Gloucester at Kingsholm before the French side recorded a stunning 14-man 29-25 victory over Exeter Chiefs.
This will be the 15th meeting between Munster Rugby and Castres Olympique and no other clubs have met as often in the tournament.
Castres come into Sunday’s game on the back of a win against Exeter Chiefs and will be aiming to win consecutive matches in Europe for the first time since winning three-in-a-row during the 2012/13 pool stage.
Munster have won their last 10 home games in the competition, picking up a bonus point in each of their last three Pool games.
Munster have conceded the fewest (20) and won the joint most turnovers so far this season (17).
Munster captain Peter O’Mahony is one of three players to steal three opposition lineouts in the opening two rounds.
No forward has beaten more defenders this season than Castres’ Steve Mafi who has beaten 10 from just six carries.
Munster: Mike Haley; Andrew Conway, Chris Farrell, Rory Scannell, Keith Earls; Joey Carbery, Conor Murray; Dave Kilcoyne, Niall Scannell, John Ryan; Tadhg Beirne, Billy Holland; Peter O’Mahony (C), Chris Cloete, CJ Stander.
Replacements: Kevin O’Byrne, Jeremy Loughman, Ciaran Parker, Fineen Wycherley, Arno Botha, Alby Mathewson, JJ Hanrahan, Sammy Arnold.
Castres Olympique: Scott Spedding; Armand Batlle, Thomas Combezou, Floran Vialelle, Taylor Paris; Benjamin Urdapilleta, Ludovic Radosavljevic; Antoine Tichit, Jody Jenneker, Daniel Kotze; Loic Jacquet, Thibault Lassalle; Mathieu Babillot (C), Alex Tulou, Kevin Gimeno.
Replacements: Kevin Firmin, Paea Fa’anunu, Marc Clerc, Christophe Samson, Yannick Caballero, Julien Caminati, Martin Laveau, Rory Kockott.
A Word From The Head Coach
Ahead of the clash, Munster Head Coach Johann van Graan said: “We try to treat each game the same, with the same amount of respect. That’s why every week we say we are going to start at zero. In this game, you have to treat every game the same way. All clubs across Europe have a double-header over the next two weeks, it brings a different challenge and it is one that the players really enjoy. We found out quite a bit about ourselves over the last few weeks, and every game is different so we’ll definitely be tested on Sunday.
“We’ve had a good look at them [Castres]. They are quality opposition. You don’t become champions of the Top 14 for nothing. They’ve got a really good kicking game, they pin most of their opponents, and then they have a pretty good defence. They are a fit side. Robert Ebersohn is a player I respect a lot. He organises their defence and we will definitely be tested on Sunday. You play the champions of another country home and away – that’s quite a big test in my eyes.”
Referee: JP Doyle
Assistant Referees: Tom Foley & Paul Dix
TMO: David Grashoff