The Guinness Pro 12 season has reached the semi-final stages and ahead of the culmination of another competitive season, accolades have been bestowed on those most deserving.
In what was the winningest season ever in the Pro 12, Munster sit top of the table after 22 games. With an incredible 19 victories, the Limerick based side contribute six to the Pro 12 team of the season.
As expected, and not without a serious dose of emotion, Johan ‘Rassie’ Erasmus, Director of Rugby for the province, has taken the Coach of the Season award.
In his first of a three year contract with Munster, Erasmus, along with the entire squad, has had to deal with the tragic and untimely passing of head coach and friend Anthony Foley.
When the Munster legend passed away back in October, the 44-year-old South African stepped in to continue Foley’s work. It was work that bore fruit following two seasons of toil.
With the ramparts of ‘Fortress Thomond’ once again full, Erasmus guided Munster to the semi-finals of the Champions Cup and a home semi-final of the Pro 12.
In no small part spurned on by the memory of their colleague and friend Foley, Munster have, under the guidance of Erasmus, exceeded the expectations of all and catapulted the province back to the top table of European rugby.
Erasmus has committed to Munster for another two seasons and put to bed any notions of him returning to the South Africa Rugby Union set up that he left last year.
From heartbreak has come hope this term and with Erasmus at the helm, fans no longer dare to dream. Now they believe.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena