Belfast Telegraph

Munster fans urged to raise volume and help end derby woe

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Given all Rassie Erasmus has been through in the short time he has been in Ireland, it's easy to forget he's still getting used to life on this island and the customs that go with it.

As a man long used to high performance environments, he quickly felt at home in the Munster set-up, but the quirkier aspects of Irish life are still taking some getting used to.

Take Christmas for example. The former Springbok is used to the long days and hot sun of a South African summer at this time of year and, as a result, the run-in to the big day doesn't seem to be such a big deal.

December is close season for rugby in the Southern Hemisphere too, so the big inter-provincial clashes that await him in the coming fortnight are new.

"We're not used to building it up so long in South Africa," Erasmus said.

"It's great, my children and my wife are loving it and I am also loving it."

For all the anticipation, there will be no dwelling on Christmas for the Munster Director of Rugby, who has the small matter of a derby game against Leinster on Boxing Day.

His first experience of the rivalry ended in a comprehensive 25-14 defeat and, after back-to-back losses to their neighbours last season, there will be a determination in Munster to end a run of derby defeats.

While there was a big crowd at the Aviva Stadium for that outing, Erasmus wasn't fully able to appreciate the atmosphere.

With the sold-out signs up at Thomond Park, Monday's game should give him more of an idea of what the intense rivalry can generate.

"The first one at the Aviva was a weird one for me. There was a lot of people, but we were sitting in a sound-proof coaches' box. It's the first time I've experienced that," he explained.

"You couldn't feel it at all so it was difficult to get the vibe.

"But this one is definitely a big occasion; everybody is looking forward to it.

"Last weekend, despite the loss, the atmosphere in Leicester was also something special to be a part of.

"It was something new, it felt very intense there. When Leinster are here hopefully it will be the same kind of atmosphere."

A strong Munster performance would help create that atmosphere.

Belfast Telegraph

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