Champions Cup: Munster coach Johann van Graan ‘incredibly proud’ of his players after dramatic loss in penalty shoot-outs

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Munster coach Johann van Graan said he is “incredibly proud” of his team despite being knocked out of the Champions Cup by Toulouse in Dublin.

In an incredible game of European rugby, the scores were locked up at 24-24 after extra time, forcing the game into a penalty shoot-out where Toulouse was flawless from the boot to claim a dramatic win.

A fine occasion

Van Graan commended his players for their efforts and the supporters for travelling to Dublin to support their side.

“Firstly, I’m incredibly proud. Today was what Munster Rugby is about,” van Graan said.

“To lose it like that, that’s unfortunately sport. That’s the way the rules are. Somebody’s got to kick it over and somebody’s got to miss.

“If ever there’s a day to sum up Munster Rugby, it’s today. A community of 40,000 people travelling. Everybody associated with Munster Rugby will be incredibly proud of the 23 guys that stood up and fought today.”

Van Graan praised his younger players for standing up and performing at the highest stage against the defending champions.

“Whether it was Earlsy who had a phenomenal few weeks at his age, or Kendellen or Thomas, I’m incredibly proud of them,” he said. “We’re incredibly proud to coach players like that and for them to experience things like this.

“The man on the street never experiences what these 23 men went through today and they’ll remember it for the rest of their lives. One kick is the difference and I am proud of them.”

Munster hooker Niall Scannell believes that despite the loss, there was an element of satisfaction in how they pushed Toulouse to the point of a penalty shoot-out.

“My overwhelming feeling at the moment, and it might change as the days go by, is that we’ve been in these scenarios before and I felt like we just didn’t really fire a shot. We just didn’t really give it a proper go,” Scannell said.

“Whereas I think we played some unbelievable rugby out there against what is obviously an incredible side and we left it all out there.

“It literally came down to the finest margins. From our point of view, there’s maybe a bit of an element of satisfaction in the performance that we haven’t had when we’ve come out on the wrong side of those results before.”

Toulouse’s Julien Marchand believes there was nothing between the sides, and it was “sad” for Munster to lose in this fashion.

“Apart from hoping that the penalties go over during the shoot-out, we couldn’t do anything else.

“It’s sad for Munster to lose that way and we have to remain humble out of respect for their team, but we’re delighted to win and move on.

“We’ll have to recover quickly because next week is another big game. It will be another massive challenge. We’ll regroup and rejuvenate.

“That was a tough quarter-final, but Munster is not just anyone.”

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