Jump to main content


Magners Preview: Aironi Rugby v Munster

Magners Preview: Aironi Rugby v Munster

Magners League leaders Munster face their second trip to Italy in the space of two weeks. Bottom side Aironi will be eyeing up a big scalp, but Tony McGahan’s men should have too much firepower for them.

MAGNERS LEAGUE: Sunday, February 27

AIRONI RUGBY (12th) v MUNSTER (1st), Stadio Zaffanella, 2pm local time/1pm Irish time

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Team News: With a busy week that includes British & Irish Cup and Six Nations action, Munster have been forced to ring the changes for Sunday’s Magners League encounter with Aironi Rugby at Stadio Zaffanella.

Head coach Tony McGahan has made seven changes to the starting line-up – three of them positional. A strong-looking replacements bench also sees the return from injury of the 208-times capped Alan Quinlan.

Quinlan dislocated his elbow in the game against Connacht at the end of December and is back for bench duty, alongside the experienced Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan and Doug Howlett.

Denis Leamy is busy with the Ireland squad, so the pack shows just one change in personnel with Ian Nagle coming into the second row to partner Mick O’Driscoll and Donnacha Ryan selected at blindside flanker.

The half-back pairing from the Edinburgh game of Ronan O’Gara and Peter Stringer will also be in Edinburgh, so Paul Warwick switches from centre to out-half where he lines out alongside Duncan Williams.

Sam Tuitupou resumes at inside centre and Denis Hurley switches to the right wing berth vacated by Howlett to facilitate the introduction of former Ireland Under-20 winger Simon Zebo.

Speaking ahead of the game, Hurley said: “I don’t really think this is a case of making amends (for our last trip to Italy), not at all.

“After the Treviso loss, we knew we had to bounce back and we did against Edinburgh in what was a much improved display.

“Now it’s a case of maintaining that momentum. We won’t be looking at league positions because it’s a question of how we perform on the day.

“Every point counts in this competition and even more so now. It’s very much a case of getting our own performance right and seeing where that takes us.”

Meanwhile, permit players Peitro Travagli and Tommaso d’Apice will make their first starts for Aironi this weekend.

There are a number of other changes to the Aironi team that lost 18-3 o the Dragons last Sunday. Gilberto Pavan and Matteo Pratichetti form the centre partnership, replacing Horacio San Martin and Gabriel Pizarro.

Danwel Demas returns at full-back in place of the injured Julien Laharrague, who fractured his right hand during a training session on Thursday.

Kaine Robertson and Giulio Toniolatti take up positions on the wings with Italy scrum half Travagli joining James Marshall at half-back.

Another international, Josh Sole, returns in a back row completed by Gareth Krause and former Munster player Nick Williams.

Former Italy Under-20 hooker d’Apice will make his maiden start in the front row alongside Fabio Staibano and Alberto de Marchi.

AIRONI RUGBY: Danwel Demas; Kaine Robertson, Gilberto Pavan, Matteo Pratichetti, Giulio Toniolatti; James Marshall, Pietro Travagli; Alberto de Marchi, Tommaso d’Apice, Fabio Staibano, Joshua Furno, Marco Bortolami (capt), Josh Sole, Gareth Krause, Nick Williams.

Replacements: Roberto Santamaria, Luca Redolfini, Andrea de Marchi, George Biagi, Nicola Cattina, Giorgio Bronzini, Riccardo Bocchino, Gabriel Pizarro.

MUNSTER: Johne Murphy; Denis Hurley, Lifeimi Mafi, Sam Tuitupou, Simon Zebo; Paul Warwick, Duncan Williams; Wian du Preez, Damien Varley, Tony Buckley, Ian Nagle, Mick O’Driscoll (capt), Donnacha Ryan, Tommy O’Donnell, James Coughlan.

Replacements: Denis Fogarty, Marcus Horan, Stephen Archer, Billy Holland, Alan Quinlan, Conor Murray, Declan Cusack, Doug Howlett.

Referee: David Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Alan Falzone, Marius Mitrea (both Italy)

Match Odds (Paddy Power): Aironi Rugby to win: 3/1; Draw: 22/1; Munster to win: 2/9

Pre-Match Quotes: Shaun Payne (Munster) – “We went over to Treviso a couple of weeks ago and came unstuck. Aironi gave a good showing against Leinster the last time they played out there and obviously they beat Biarritz at home in the Heineken Cup.

“I know they haven’t had a win yet in the Magners League, but it’s only a matter of time before that happens.

“We played them first up at Musgrave Park (in the league) and they showed just what they are capable of and scored a good try right off the bat.

“Still, I think we’re on an upward curve. We obviously haven’t been playing with a whole heap of confidence but I think we did really well against Edinburgh.

“If we carry on the good work at the set piece, I see no reason why we can’t put in a good performance. We are working our asses off week in, week out on the set piece. This is not just hit and hope.”

Rowland Phillips (Aironi Rugby) – “It was a poor performance and generally a poor game against the Dragons. It’s disappointing because we don’t prepare to not play. The conditions didn’t help but we didn’t help ourselves.

“It was a game I expected us to win. Whether the pressure of chasing a first win, the pressure of playing a game we should’ve won had a negative effect I don’t know, but it’s frustrating.

“Everyone in the changing room over the last three months has been focused on getting a win. The attitude before the game gave me no reason to be concerned.

“But I’m learning that one of the biggest challenges is to continue working on the players’ mentalities.

“We didn’t create enough against the Dragons. In those kind of conditions it is tough to play sometimes, it’s sometimes better to play without the ball. But our kicking game wasn’t good enough and that put us under pressure.

“If you look at the Magners League the higher you go up, the kicking percentage gets better. You don’t need to be an expert to realise that it’s something we need to work on. Our kicking out of hand and at goal isn’t good enough.

“I’m enjoying it over here but as we all can see there’s still a lot of work to do. We’re certainly moving forward as a group and getting more competitive in the league, but there’s work to do.”

Top Scorers – 2010/11 Magners League: Aironi Rugby – Points: Ludovic Mercier 44; Tries: Nick Williams 2; Munster – Points: Ronan O’Gara 115; Tries: Doug Howlett 4


Saturday, September 4, 2010 – Munster 33 Aironi Rugby 17, Musgrave Park


– Aironi slipped to their 14th Magners League defeat of the season at home to the Newport Gwent Dragons last Sunday

– Munster’s only loss in their last six Magners League encounters came on their only previous visit to Italy in the competition, against Benetton Treviso two weeks ago

– Munster won the only previous clash between the two sides, 33-17, at Musgrave Park in round 1 of the new Magners League campaign