It’s hard to say where Munster might have been the equals of Clermont tonight.
It wasn’t in the scrum.
It wasn’t in the ruck.
It wasn’t in the maul.
It wasn’t in open play.
It wasn’t in kicking out of hand.
It wasn’t in ball-handling.
It wasn’t even in the lineout.
It wasn’t, let’s be blunt with ourselves, even in the game plan.
So much for the French being bad travellers. They squeezed us, they choked us, they locked us out of our own stadium. This contest with Clermont gave us almost nothing to take home by way of satisfaction, apart from the sour comfort that it could have been worse. At least they didn’t get their four tries, while we ended with a losing bonus: a two-point difference that we might end up being grateful for, though I doubt it.
On tonight’s performance, Clermont were the superior team in almost every respect and they can only be tougher when we visit them next weekend. Blood and guts can take a team only so far, but in the end, it takes flair, inventiveness and a thorough analysis of your opponents’ game.
Clermont had their homework done but I don’t know if we had. The players will be devastated and tonight is not the time for post-mortems, but tomorrow hard questions will need to be asked by everyone about their performance, on the field, on the training ground and in the stand.