Munster coach Johann van Graan: 'Life is more important than rugby'

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, Thomond Park

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Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, Thomond Park

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Munster coach Johann van Graan: 'Life is more important than rugby'

Munster head coach Johann van Graan

MUNSTER head coach Johann van Graan insists the province will be guided by the PRO14 organisers and the Irish government when it comes to the potential postponement of upcoming fixtures due to the coronavirus.

Munster’s players are on holidays this week, before the squad re-assembles at their High Performance Centre in UL next week to begin preparations for scheduled back-to-back PRO14 fixtures with Italian side Benetton Rugby.

With Benetton’s fixture with Ulster in Treviso on Saturday last postponed as sporting bodies react to the spread of coronavirus, Munster’s scheduled date with the Italian side at the Stadio Monigo on March 21 must be in real doubt along with the two sides return fixture in Cork on March 27.

Should both games with Benetton be postponed, Munster could be faced with a five week break before playing their next competitive fixture.

The PRO14 announced in recent days that, in keeping with World Rugby practice, that any game that is cancelled with no possible alternative dates found will be declared a 0-0 draw with each team receiving two match points.

Asked about the possible disruption posed by the coronavirus outbreak, Van Graan insisted, ‘life is more important than rugby’. 

“Firstly, the guys are going to be away for a week now. Obviously, this week away was always planned. 

“The guys will go on holiday and once they are back in a week’s time we have a week to prepare (for game v Benetton away).
“Firstly, we will just go with whatever the PRO14 and Ireland decide we need to do.

“The importance of the health of, not only the players, the management, but all people around the world are pretty important and we will just adapt to whatever we need to.

“Whatever that means, whatever that looks like, I guess nobody knows at this stage.

“From our point of view, we will just prepare the way that we can, whatever happens in the competition I guess life is more important than rugby.”

Van Graan said the coronavirus issue was out of Munster’s control.
“It is not at all (frustrating). That’s things out of your control, that is just the way life works, so if that pans out in whatever direction we’ll just do what we need to do.”

Van Graan said he felt his side had reacted well to the stormy conditions at Thomond Park on Saturday.
“The conditions were horrendous. I thought we reacted quite well to the conditions.

“At half-time we said the wind is not going to win it for us and I felt we made some good decisions in the second half.”