United Rugby Championship

BKT URC Semifinal Preview: Bitter Rivals Clash As Munster Hosts Glasgow

BKT URC Semifinal Preview: Bitter Rivals Clash As Munster Hosts Glasgow

Munster Rugby will host the Glasgow Warriors in the BKT United Rugby Championship semifinal at Thomond Park. Here is a match preview.

Jun 14, 2024 by Philip Bendon
BKT URC Semifinal Preview: Bitter Rivals Clash As Munster Hosts Glasgow

Reigning BKT URC champion Munster. Rugby will welcome arch-rivals, the Glasgow Warriors, to Thomond Park for a highly anticipated semifinal bout.

Defeating the Scottish side earlier this season, and in last season’s quarterfinal, Munster will be looking to complete a rare hat trick of wins over a side it knows well.

For the visitors, revenge is the name of the game, as Franco Smith’s men will look to repeat their heroics of the 2022-2023 season, where they claimed a comprehensive scalp by downing Munster at Fortress Thomond.

With the teams named and a place in the final on the line, the stage is set for an absolutely corker of a clash.


The champions enter the clash on the back of some mixed health news with winger Calvin Nash, fly-half Joey Carbery and utility forward Thomas Ahern headlining a raft of unavailable players.

On more positive news, Alex Nankivell and Antoine Frisch both are fit and will renew their impressive center partnership just in time to face the Scotland duo of Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones.

Once again, when he opted for a dynamite bench, head coach Graham Rowntree loaded his substitution list with star players, namely Oli Jager, RG Snyman and Gavin Coombes. 

Aiming to finish the match as strong as possible, this strategy has paid dividends for Munster in recent weeks, and the team once again looks to up the ante in the final quarter.

While the firepower on the bench is undeniable, the starting lineup isn’t half bad either, with Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’Mahony being the experienced heads in the pack. In the backline, Craig Casey and Jack Crowley will be pulling the strings for a dynamic backline that sees the tactically astute trio of Shane Daly, Simon Zebo and Mike Haley fill the back three positions.

Key Man: Peter O’Mahony, Backrow

The former captain remains the spiritual leader of the province, and despite a rumored disgruntling around how he is being treated of late, would love nothing more than to guide his team to another final.

While there is little doubt that he will be plucked from the action early in the second half, given that Rowntree has opted for a 6-2 bench split, O’Mahony will be crucial to his team getting into the lead.

Narky at the best of times, POM will get under the Warriors' skin early and will challenge their discipline. Around the park, his ability at the line-out and breakdown will be crucial in slowing down the Warriors potent maul and backline.

Glasgow Warriors

A wounded animal is a dangerous one, and the Warriors will be baying for blood when they take it to Thomond Park on Saturday.

Dumped out of last year’s competition at home in the quarterfinals and downed again earlier this season by the men in red, they will be desperate to avoid a three-peat.  

Loading up on international talent, head coach Franco Smith will be hoping his Scotland stars are ready to tackle their Irish counterparts.

Two position groups, in particular, will be key.

Firstly, the backrow of Matt Fagerson, Rory Darge and Jack Dempsey will have their hands full with Munster's multiple poaching threats. In this regard, they will need to ensure that Tadhg Beirne and Peter O’Mahony, in particular, are blown away at ruck time. Failure to be 100% accurate in this department will cause their quick ruck speed to be turned down a notch or two.

As touched upon above, the center combination of Sione Tuipulotu and Huw Jones will be the fulcrum of the Warriors attack. If the duo can get on the front foot and dictate the rate of play then it will go a long way toward getting the Munster defense on the back foot.

Out wide captain Kyle Steyn will be marshalling his troops with a fish eye lens on the action. The Scotland international will be able to feed back to the center duo, as well as halfbacks George Horne and Tom Jordan, about the complex shapes Munster no doubt will show.

Key Man: Zander Fagerson, Tighthead Prop

While the publicized battle of the backrows and centers has garnered the headlines, the result ultimately will be decided up front.

In this respect, the key man for the Warriors will be top-class tighthead Zander Fagerson, who appears to be hitting the best form of his career in 2024.

A dominant figure at scrum and maul time, Fagerson has caused Munster headaches in the past with his ability to obliterate looseheads.

Around the park, Fagerson is a dynamic front rower in his ability to carry and ball play, with only Tadhg Furlong on his level in the URC.


Casual observers will be surprised by just how tight this clash will be and may well be bowled over by the intensity of the rivalry.

On form, there is one clear favorite in Munster who simply has forgotten how to lose in 2024.

Glasgow is not too far behind in this department and is fresh off a confidence-boosting tight victory over perennial powerhouse the DHL Stormers in the quarterfinal.

While its status as a fortress is not quite where it was in the glory days of the mid 2000s, Thomond Park remains an intimidating venue for traveling teams. Should tempers flare, the Munster fans will be all over the Warriors and the match officials, which could be key when it comes to making big decisions.

External forces aside, the difference in the fixture looks set to be the benches of the two teams. In this area, Munster holds the advantage with the giant options of Oli Jager, RG Snyman and Gavin Coombes to call upon.

This clash feels as though it will be in balance in the final quarter. With their ability to play ‘Cup’ rugby and the power of their bench, Munster will set up a home final in what will be a huge moment for the province. Munster by 10.

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