Foley issues rallying call

MUNSTER forwards coach Anthony Foley has issued a passionate rallying call to the province’s supporters ahead of Saturday’s glamour Heineken Cup pool opener against the Northampton Saints at Thomond Park.

MUNSTER forwards coach Anthony Foley has issued a passionate rallying call to the province’s supporters ahead of Saturday’s glamour Heineken Cup pool opener against the Northampton Saints at Thomond Park.

Match tickets for Munster’s home Heineken Cup games against crunch English opposition had become like gold dust over the past decade with the games selling out well in advance. However, demand for tickets for this weekend’s fixture has not been as great, with clubs in the province returning a number of unsold tickets over the past week. Munster Rugby announced in recent days that a limited number of tickets for the province’s Pool 1 tie this weekend had gone on public sale. A number of the unsold tickets had also been returned by Northampton.

Category A and B stand tickets for Saturday game are priced at E50 and E40 respectively, while terrace tickets cost E30 each. The fall-off in demand for tickets is all the more surprising as Saturday’s fixture is only the second competitive fixture Munster will play in Limerick this season.

Anthony Foley said he hoped the fall in demand for tickets was not down to supporters losing faith in the team. Munster will be aiming to improve on last season’s showing in the Heineken Cup when the side failed to advance to the knock-out stages of Europe’s premier club rugby competition for the first time in 13 seasons.

Forwards coach Foley urged Munster supporters to get behind the team on Saturday and to generate an intimidating atmosphere for the visit of the Aviva Premiership side.

“Hopefully people are not losing the faith, that it has to do with the current economic situation. Hopefully the supporters understand that we need them on Saturday,” Anthony Foley stressed.

“We need the fans in full voice. We need the stadium full to capacity and we need it to be an intimidating atmosphere for an English team coming to Thomond Park, Saturday’s game is what we are all about. Hopefully we can get that in our performance.

“We are under no illusions about what it is going to take to win the game. We just hope that everyone is singing off the same hymn sheet in Thomond Park, make sure the boys get the support they deserve and we have a lovely atmosphere in the ground - nice and intimidating - like it normally is for Munster’s Heineken Cup games. Hopefully that will aid the side.”

For a time, before the re-development of Thomond Park increased the capacity to 25,600, fans queued for hours to snap up tickets for Munster’s home Heineken Cup pool and quarter-final games.

Munster Rugby announced ‘significant reductions’ in match ticket prices for this season last March in a bid to attract more patrons to their home fixtures. There has been a reduction in RaboDirect PRO12 ticket prices and the introduction of three new family orientated season tickets offering increased value and discounts to supporters.

The two largest categories of RaboDirect PRO12 tickets, Terrace and Category B seated, have been reduced in price at Thomond Park and Musgrave Park by 9% and 14% respectively, Category B tickets are now priced at E30 with Terrace tickets reduced to E20. These two ticket categories accounting for over 70% of available Magners League tickets. Additionally, Munster Rugby have focused on providing reduced prices for families with three types of tickets.

Former number eight Anthony Foley insists Munster are fully aware of the size of the challenge last season’s beaten finalists Northampton pose to their Heineken Cup ambitions.

“I think you have to realise that we are better than what we were against Leinster. All the players recognise that,” Anthony Foley said.

“It was said afterwards that we need to bring certain things to our game. If they are missing, you are liable to lose those games. The boys are under no illusion about what it will take to beat Northampton at Thomond Park.

“Northampton have had a good record in the Heineken Cup in recent times.

“They are a good pedigree side. We have to make sure we are properly prepared and looking after ourselves. We need to put in a big performance. I think that is well within the lads.”