“It was obviously disappointing to lose the game but it was a great experience. The atmosphere at the game was fantastic. Unfortunately we didn’t get the win but I’m looking forward to playing at Thomond Park next weekend and hopefully we can get a win under our belts then.”
That was the reaction of Jean de Villiers after playing in his first Heineken Cup game against Northampton Saints and in terms of what he was used to in Super 14, the South African centre is in little doubt that last Saturday’s match compares well.
“It’s definitely right up there,” he said after Munster’s 31-27 loss to the Saints at Franklin’s Gardens.
“Tough, very physical, good pace to the game and the skills levels of the guys are pretty high. For me it was very enjoyable and just as tough as any of the Super 14 games I’ve played anywhere.”
The atmosphere at a packed Franklin’s Gardens was another aspect of Saturday’s proceedings that de Villiers was impressed by.
“The atmosphere was really really good. Back home we’ve usually got bigger stadiums but it’s harder to fill them.
“Here they’re smaller so you really feel the crowd close to you. The atmosphere was fantastic.
“And to see the travelling support for Munster was awesome. Probably because of distances we don’t really have that at home. So again for me that was a great experience, very enjoyable.”
In terms of the game itself and the result, was the Springbok’s opinion?
“As I said, it was disappointing. But for me it was pleasing how the team came back into the game.
“Twice we gave them an easy seven points and they built up a real big lead. But we worked hard to come came right back just to miss out at the end.”
Commenting on his transition into the province’s side, he added: “I think it takes a bit of getting used to a new team, new players.
“It’s about getting comfortable in the team and your role in the team but I think it’s getting better each week and I’m looking forward to Thomond Park next weekend.”