Concern for Thomas Young after Wasps eliminated in a beating in six tries
Munster 45 Wasps 7
Try telling Munster there was nothing at stake here. Province may have come into this game with their place in the Champions Cup knockout stage already secured, but that brutal dismantling of Wasps in six tries, which ended the England side’s hopes of reaching the last 16, will long be remembered by Limerick fans. . They will now face Exeter in the round of 16.
There was an atmosphere of anticipation as just over 13,000 fans packed into the famous stadium – with a reputation as one of European rugby’s most impenetrable strongholds – after the Irish government lifted the majority of Covid restrictions on Friday. It meant that what would have been a crowd of just 5,000 grew, along with the expectations of the Munster faithful, which were certainly met.
Full-capacity crowds are allowed again, but Munster had capped 16,000 fans instead of the usual 25,000.
The atmosphere was feverish especially in the last minutes of the game, Munster having already sealed the bonus point try just after the break. Two final scores, from winger Simon Zebo sealing his brace and a try from center Rory Scannell’s last play of the game thrilled the crowd. The kind of joy usually reserved for a knockout victory. It was about more than sport – it was about another return to normality.
Head coach Johann van Graan, who is at Bath for next season, said: “The impact of this virus on everyone [has been massive]. It was phenomenal to find so many supporters,” he said.
However, despite all the joy from the Munster side, Wasps were worried as flanker Thomas Young was taken to hospital by ambulance with a head injury. The incident after 36 minutes resulted in a long break of more than 10 minutes as the Welsh openside was treated on the pitch after what looked like a clash of heads with a Munster player.
Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said the 29-year-old will spend the night in hospital and undergo further tests before the club release an update today. Prior to this injury, Wasps were already shattered with 17 players unavailable through injury, illness or suspension. Alfie Barbeary, who would have given the team more courage against a fierce Munster pack, was not playing as a precaution due to a knock but will still travel to the England camp this week.
Although Wasps had beaten reigning European champions Toulouse and Premiership leaders Leicester in their previous two outings, Blackett put up a dejected number after such a heavy defeat. “I thought it was probably a step back from where we’ve been for the past few weeks. Disappointing. I just physically thought we lost our battle,” he said.
The numerous absences took their toll, including veteran inside center/flying half Jimmy Gopperth, who would have made it through under usual circumstances, as well as Ryan Mills, who had been out for over a year, removed at the last minute.
It left 20-year-old fly-half Charlie Atkinson an almost impossible task to lead the team and it was seen from the opening minutes when Ireland and Lions scrum-half Conor Murray opened the scoring for his team.
Blackett added: “I know I spoke a bit before the game about probably a few carriers down from last week, and I knew we had to be physical. We had a game plan, I tried to play a bit wider this week, but you have to at least win the win line to get it and I thought we lost that battle.
Murray, along with captain Peter O’Mahony, lost their starting places in Ireland in November and both signaled their intention to Andy Farrell early on in the way they ran their team. Munster were three tries from good at 30 minutes, despite Dan Robson scoring 27 minutes showing Wasps intent, with Zebo’s first and a good pick of the eventual man of the match, alongside Jack O’ Donoghué.
Young’s injury seemed to naturally shake his team-mates and they couldn’t gain a foothold in a more scrappy second half, which Munster revived brilliantly, with a try from prop Jeremy Loughman sealing the bonus point. However, with rafts of substitutions due to Munster being in charge and securing third place in Pool B, they just defended themselves and a naïve wasp – both in terms of fitness and experience of match – couldn’t cope and conceded 14 points in the death. steps.