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Champions Cup

Leinster Topple Toulouse to Top Pool 1

Leinster, missing nine first team regulars including World Rugby Player of the Year and captain, Johnny Sexton, showed their strength and depth, with an impressive win over their fellow four-time European champions.

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Written by Joshua Freeman
Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster returned to the summit of their European pool as they had too much for French giants Toulouse on Saturday, running out 29-13 winners.

Jack Conan, Dave Kearney, Sean Cronin, and Adam Byrne all crossed for the home side, with Cheslin Kolbe claiming Toulouse’s consolation try, as Leinster claimed a bonus-point win.

Leinster, missing nine first team regulars including World Rugby Player of the Year and captain, Johnny Sexton, showed their strength and depth, with an impressive win over their fellow four-time European champions.

After, a tough start to the game, Sexton’s replacement Ross Byrne traded points with his opposite number, Thomas Ramos, to leave the game at 3-3 up until the 34th minute.

With Leinster having a scrum inside the 22, they pounced, passing across the line to Adam Byrne, who nearly crossed the white wash before being tackled. Moments later, Luke McGrath scooped up from the back of a ruck before firing to No.8 Conan who headed over for the first try off the game.

Ross Byrne kicked the extras; however, a late Thomas Ramos penalty had the teams going in at half-time at 10-6.

Leinster banished any fears of a Toulouse comeback 10 minutes into the second half. Ross Byrne sent a pin-point cross field kick from just outside the opposition 22 into the hands of Dave Kearney, who finished superbly in the corner despite the attention of Romain Ntamack.

This time Byrne failed to add the additional two.

On the stroke of the hour mark, Cronin touched down at the back of a ruck beside the posts, with Byrne converting, to make it 22-6.

The blow for both Leinster and Ireland was seeing scrum-half Luke McGrath being helped of the field after sustaining a leg injury.

In his absence replacement Jamison Gibson-Park showed his class. With five minutes remaining as he took a quick tap and go, sending a wonderful looping pass for Adam Byrne to run in for the bonus-point, Noel Reid kicked the extras this time.

In the dying seconds, the electric, Cheslin Kolbe, burst through the Leinster defence to score a try for the away side and drop kicked the conversion himself to confirm the 29-13 score line.

The win leaves Leinster 3 points clear at the top of Pool 1 with one round of fixtures left and in pole position for a home quarter-final.

Leinster head coach, Leo Cullen, was impressed by his team’s win post-match, but, ensured that the job is not done.

“We still have a lot of work to do to top this pool”, Cullen said, adding that Wasps away will be a “difficult” fixture.

Even though man of the match, Garry Ringrose, claimed his team’s performance, “wasn’t perfect”, it sent a message across the continent that Leinster are still the team to beat as they aim for back to back championships.

Check out the match highlights:


Champions Cup

Player Contract Extensions Confirmed

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Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm the first player contract extensions of the season with five members of the senior squad putting pen to paper.

Craig Casey has signed a three-year contract while Mike Haley, Shane Daly and Josh Wycherley have signed two-year contract extensions.

Additionally, Alex Kendellen, who advanced to the senior ranks at the beginning of the season on a new two-year deal, has extended his contract further to remain with the province until at least July 2025.

Scrum-half Craig Casey has made 49 appearances for the province since his debut against Connacht in 2019.

The 23-year-old Shannon man and former Ardscoil Rís pupil won Academy Player of the Year in 2019 and was also vice-captain of the Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20s that year.

He was named Young Player of the Year in 2021 and has made 38 appearances over the past two seasons along with earning five Ireland caps.

Mike Haley.

Mike Haley joined Munster from Sale Sharks in 2018 and has already amassed 80 appearances for the province, starting at full-back on each occasion and scoring 16 tries.

The Preston native played more minutes than any other Munster player in the 2018/19 and 2020/21 campaigns and made his Ireland debut against Italy in August 2019.

28-year-old Haley made his Munster debut against Cheetahs in 2018 and has been a near ever-present at full-back since.

Shane Daly.

A product of the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, versatile back Shane Daly joined the senior squad in 2019 and has established himself as a key member of the squad.

He was named Young Player of the Year in 2020 with the Cork Constitution clubman and former PBC student earning two Ireland caps over the past two years.

To date, the 25-year-old has scored eight tries in 49 Munster appearances and starts at full-back for Emerging Ireland against the Griquas in Bloemfontein later today.

Josh Wycherley

Josh Wycherley enjoyed a standout season last year making 19 appearances with an overall 29 appearances in red to date.

The 23-year-old prop made his debut against Cardiff Blues in Thomond Park in October 2020 with his first Champions Cup start singled out for high praise when Munster secured victory against Clermont Auvergne in December 2020.

His grassroots stem from Bantry Bay RFC and he is a former pupil of Cistercian College, Roscrea and linked up with Young Munster RFC on his move to Limerick.

Alex Kendellen.

A former Ireland U20s Six Nations Grand Slam winner, Wycherley starts for Emerging Ireland against the Griquas in Bloemfontein later today.

21-year-old Alex Kendellen was initially named in the Emerging Ireland squad for the South Africa tour but did not travel as he continues to follow return to play protocols.

A product of PBC and UCC the back-row forward was deservedly named the Academy Player of the Year in June after a fantastic season that saw him line out in 20 of Munster’s 26 games.

Kendellen made his debut against Scarlets in March 2021 and has made 22 appearances for the province.

He captained the Ireland U20s for the 2021 Six Nations and was a standout performer as they finished third, scoring six tries in five appearances.

Watch Live | Griquas v Emerging Ireland – 12.45pm

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Champions Cup

Munster Rugby New Coaches Intro | 2022/23

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A new-look coaching team will lead Munster Rugby this season with Head Coach Graham Rowntree joined by Mike Prendergast, Andi Kyriacou and Denis Leamy.

New Attack Coach Prendergast joined from Racing 92, Forwards Coach Kyriacou was promoted from his role as Elite Player Development Officer and Defence Coach Leamy has returned from Leinster.

See profiles for the three new members of the coaching team below. Scroll down to watch Graham Rowntree’s first interview as Munster Head Coach.

Mike Prendergast – Attack Coach

Mike Prendergast has joined Munster from Top 14 side Racing 92, where he held the role of  Attack and Backs Coach since 2019.

Prendergast has a wealth of experience of coaching at the top level and in addition to Racing 92 he has held assistant coaching roles with Stade Francais, Oyannax Rugby and Grenoble FCG since making the move to France in 2013.

On completing his professional playing career in 2009 the scrum-half continued playing with his club Young Munster RFC while also progressing on the coaching front as he held Head Coach and Director of Rugby roles with the Limerick side.

On the provincial coaching front, he previously worked closely with Academy Manager Ian Costello and Team Manager Niall O’Donovan when overseeing the backline for the Munster A’s that enjoyed British and Irish Cup success in 2012.

Andi Kyriacou – Forwards Coach

Andi Kyriacou has been promoted from his role as an Elite Player Development Officer with the Greencore Munster Rugby Academy, a position he held since April 2021.

From England, the former hooker lined out for the province during the 2006/07 season when on loan from Saracens and went on to represent Ulster and Cardiff Rugby before retiring from the professional game in 2013.

Over the last decade he has held numerous coaching roles in the areas of the scrum, defence, skills, and forwards working with Cardiff Rugby, Sale Sharks, Russia Rugby and Nottingham.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster's Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry earlier this season.

Andi Kyriacou prior to Munster’s Champions Cup clash against Wasps in Coventry.

Denis Leamy – Defence Coach

Denis Leamy returned to Munster after a three-year spell at Leinster, where he first held a role as an Elite Player Development Officer before moving up to the role of Contact Skills Coach in October 2021.

Following a hugely successful playing career with Munster and Ireland Leamy’s coaching career saw him work with several sides across the province over seven years including Young Munster RFC, Rockwell College, Clonmel RFC, Cashel RFC and Garryowen FC.

On the provincial front the Tipperary native also worked at various stages with Munster’s age-grade players and the ‘A’ team before making the move to Leinster.

He joined the Ireland U20s team as Assistant Coach for the 2021 Six Nations campaign.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

New Defence Coach Denis Leamy.

Video | Graham Rowntree Interview

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Champions Cup

Video | Graham Rowntree’s 1st Interview As Head Coach

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We spoke to Graham Rowntree about his new role as Munster Head Coach ahead of the pre-season training programme.

Graham spent three years as Munster Forwards Coach before stepping up to become Head Coach.

He leads a new-look coaching team including Attack Coach Mike Prendergast, Defence Coach Denis Leamy and Forwards Coach Andi Kyriacou.

The new campaign kicks off in one month with Munster taking on Gloucester and London Irish in two pre-season games at Musgrave Park. Click here for fixture details and ticket news.

Watch Graham Rowntree’s first interview as Munster Head Coach below.

Pre-Season Fixtures

Buy a discount two-match pack here.

Friday, August 26

Munster Rugby v Gloucester, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm; Buy tickets here

Friday, September 2

Munster Rugby v London Irish, Musgrave Park, 7.30pm; Buy tickets here

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