United Rugby Championship

'There Is No Tomorrow, This Is Knockout Rugby' - Graham Rowntree

'There Is No Tomorrow, This Is Knockout Rugby' - Graham Rowntree

Munster Rugby head coach Graham Rowntree discussed his team's BKT United Rugby Championship campaign ahead of the semifinal against the Glasgow Warriors.

Jun 13, 2024 by Philip Bendon
'There Is No Tomorrow, This Is Knockout Rugby' - Graham Rowntree

Reigning BKT URC champion Munster Rugby knows a thing or two about doing things the hard way.

Going on the road for the full knockout series last season, Munster proved it's a team that performs best when backed up against the wall. 

This attitude has seen what in December looked set to be a disastrous season be turned into a remarkable run to the top of the table.

Fresh off another defeat that had them laboring in 11th position on the table, Graham Rowntree's team battened down the hatches while welcomed back several key stars from injury and international duty.

Since then, Munster has won every URC fixture in which it has played, claiming 44 out of 45 possible points in the regular season, before winning a quarterfinal clash last weekend.

Discussing his team's rise and the benefits of not having to go on the road this season, Rowntree said, "We don't mind a bit of jeopardy, a bit of travel. No, it is nice being at home in the glorious Limerick weather, training at the same venue."

Focusing on his team's upcoming semifinal, the Munster boss laid out a clear plan for the week.

“We'll have another hit out Thursday," he said. "We won't do much after that because it's about what you don't do this time of year. As I think I said Saturday night, we've got a lot in the bank. Physically, the guys are ready. We will train well today, and we'll have another hit out."

Rewinding the clock to a tough day in Munster's heavy loss to its upcoming semifinal opponent, Glasgow, in last season's regular-season matchup, Rowntree felt it was a watershed moment for his side.

“For those of you who will do us, it's nice being here without a load of travel," Rowntree added. "In answer to your question, 28-0 at halftime, was it? Yeah, I'll never forget that dressing room.

“We were better second half. Now, I think the term I've used wisely. It gave us a punch on the nose, and certainly, defensively, we changed some key elements of our game and how we were training, which stood out to us. I say stood to us.

“We went down to Durban and got beat by the Sharks the week after, but I look back at what we learned and what we picked up from that game, and it has stood out to us since then."

When asked to pinpoint the moment his team began to turn things around this season, Rowntree lent into his team's time on the road in South Africa. 

During this period Munster would defeat both the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions at altitude, which set the stage for their ascent to the top of the table. 

Paying homage to the leaders within his squad, Rowntree said these leaders gathered the troops and have highlighted that from that point on there was no margin for error.

“I think I've got a leadership group who takes care of that," he said. "There are some good people in that group. It's a tight group. I think South Africa again was good for that. That kind of pulled everyone together. The guys have been away with the Six Nations, but we've had a tight group, and we've got some momentum.

“The guys know the magnitude of these games now. I mean, there's no tomorrow. This is knockout rugby.

“So, you've got to keep your emotions in check, and we know that, and certainly, in the training field, we're looking after them as best as possible.

“It's about what we don't do in training at this time of year. We've got that much done physically in the tank. We just get enough done tactically. Make sure we're moving well in training and time of year. “

How To Watch Rugby Matches In the United States On FloRugby

The URC will stream all its matches on FloRugby and the FloSports app in the United States. FloRugby and FloSports also are the U.S. home to: 

FloRugby also is home to match archives and match replays. 

Join The Rugby Conversation On FloRugby Social