Munster on Saturday romped to a five-try, 38-17 win over Glasgow in the European Rugby Champions Cup as their Thomond Park fortress paid an emotional tribute to former player and coach Anthony Foley.
Despite playing for more than an hour with 14 men after Keith Earls was red-carded for a tip tackle on Fraser Brown, the Irish side were in no mood to ponder defeat, just a day after 42-year-old Foley was buried in nearby Killaloe, Ireland.
The head coach and former No. 8 — who captained Munster to their first European Cup title in 2006 — was found dead in his Paris hotel room on Oct. 16, hours ahead of their European match against Racing 92.
A minute’s silence was impeccably observed before Saturday’s kickoff, while fans held up red No. 8 shirts and placards that read “Axel,” Foley’s nickname.
Munster ran in three tries before the break to set up their bonus-point win.
Tyler Bleyendaal, Jaco Taute and Simon Zebo all touched down with a penalty try also awarded.
Pat MacArthur and Mark Bennett grabbed tries for Glasgow before Rory Scannell scored the final try for two-time champions Munster.
Just after the final whistle, Munster were joined on the pitch by Foley’s two sons, Tony and Dan, as the 25,000-strong crowd were treated to a stirring rendition of the club’s battle cry Stand Up And Fight.
“The tough things are the small things. You get into the bus to the field, Axel’s seat is there. You get into the changing room, all the little things that remind you,” Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said.
“Then you get out to the field and the Munster people, the Irish people, do things that are very personal, with so much emotion,” he added.
The result threw Pool 1 wide open. Glasgow opened their campaign last week with an impressive 42-13 win over 2001 and 2002 champions Leicester, who were yesterday to host Dan Carter’s Racing 92.
Defending champions Saracens followed up their impressive 31-23 victory at three-time winners Toulon with a gritty 44-26 bonus-point triumph over Scarlets.
Saracens replaced the Welsh side at the top of Pool 3 thanks to tries from Mako Vunipola, Marcelo Bosch, Chris Wyles (two) and young center Nick Tompkins, who only found out he was playing at the last moment after skipper Brad Barritt injured his neck.
However, both sides suffered injuries ahead of next month’s busy international period, with Saracens’ England lock Maro Itoje picking up a right hand injury while Scarlets Wales fullback Liam Williams limped off.
Castres stunned 2000 champions Northampton in Pool 4 with a five-try, 41-7 rout.
Samoa winger David Smith scored two tries with Antoine Tichit and replacements Alexandre Bias and Antoine Dupont also crossing.
The Saints had opened their campaign with a 16-14 win over Montpellier, but on Saturday all they could muster was a late converted try from winger James Wilson.
“We were punished,” Northampton coach Jim Mallinder said.
Clermont closed in on the quarter-finals with a second successive bonus-point win in Pool 5.
They defeated Bordeaux-Begles 49-33, outscoring their Top 14 rivals six tries to five.
Clermont swept past Exeter 35-8 in their opening match, but were only 16-14 to the good at the interval on Saturday.
Fiji-born France international winger Noa Nakaitaci scored Clermont’s only try of the first period, while Jean-Marcellin Buttin and Jayden Spence crossed for Bordeaux.
However, second-half scores from Clermont’s Alexandre Lapandry, Wesley Fofana, Sebastien Vahaamahina, David Strettle and Sitaleki Timani sealed victory.
Ulster beat Exeter 19-18 with Charles Piutau scoring the game’s only try for the Irish side.
However, they needed a late Paddy Jackson drop goal to secure victory after Gareth Steenson had nudged Exeter in front with a drop of his own. Steenson also just went wide with another late drop goal attempt.
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