Rassie Erasmus admitted it was a relief to see Munster perform the way they did on an emotional day in Limerick following the passing of Anthony Foley.
The Munster legend and head coach, who passed away a week ago, was on the minds of everyone before the Champions Cup clash with Guinness PRO12 rivals Glasgow Warriors.
Despite playing with 14 men for much of the game after Keith Earls’ red card for a tip tackle, there was only ever going to be one winner, and Munster swept to a 38-17 victory.
For Erasmus, who arrived at the club this summer to work alongside Foley, it was a step into the unknown, and he was delighted with how his players responded in an incredibly difficult situation.
He said: “I feel relieved because of the unknown element about the week. The territory we got into this week and circumstances, different things, I did not know, myself, how we would react, how the players would react, even the referee or the opposition.
“It was such a weird week which you can’t really prepare for. Even with the warm-up I wasn’t even sure what we would get out of this. We had a good chat about what we were going to try and achieve, not even result-wise, but more the way we wanted to play.
“I was expecting that would come through, but not in such a mature way, for the players to do it so quickly after something tragic that happened to Axel (Anthony Foley), so I am relieved.”
Munster started brilliantly with tries from Tyler Bleyendaal and Jaco Taute, before wrapping up the bonus point through Simon Zebo and a penalty try.
Glasgow tried to come back with second-half scores from Pat MacArthur and Mark Bennett, but had left themselves too much to do, with the excellent Rory Scannell sealing the win.
There was a memorable moment after the game as Foley’s sons, Tony and Dan, joined the team on the pitch for a rendition of ‘Stand up and fight’.
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) October 22, 2016
And Erasmus admitted it had been a real struggle preparing for the game, with every little detail reminding the players of Foley.
“The tough things are the small things. You get into the bus to the field, Axel’s seat is there. You get into the changing room, all the little things that remind you,” he added.
“Then you get out to the field and the Munster people, the Irish people, do things that are very personal, with so much emotion and then I wasn’t sure how that would impact on everyone, from the opposition to us, so I am relieved the guys handled it like that.”
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23 Jun 2017