herald

Monday 19 August 2019

Munster fans with Saints' scarves a disgrace - Francis

LEINSTER and Ireland legend Neil Francis has branded a "small minority" of Munster fans who brandished Northampton colours in Cardiff "a disgrace".

The Herald rugby analyst today revealed his shock at seeing pockets of Munster fans goading Leinster supporters before the Heineken Cup final by draping themselves with Saints scarves.

A number of Munster fans made the trip to Cardiff after buying tickets in the hope that their side would be in the Amlin Cup final the night before -- prior to losing the semi final to Harlequins three weeks ago.

And according to Francis, a small number of these were determined to try to poison the occasion for their fellow Irish men.

"What I saw was a disgrace," said Francis. "I didn't think I'd ever see it again when I saw it two years ago at the Leicester game. Then I thought it was a one-off which wouldn't happen again and I just couldn't believe it -- there they were again.

"I don't know how many all together there were, it's hard to say, but I certainly saw three or four groupings of Munster fans who were wearing Northampton gear on them as well as their Munster jerseys.

"I just don't think you would ever see anybody from Leinster do that, I don't understand it."

But Francis said the majority of the red army were supportive of Leinster.

"To counterbalance it there were a lot of guys who came over and shook hands and said well done in the spirit of the game and that's they way it should be," Francis said.

"It's hard to explain how an Irishman would support an English team when there is an Irish team there. It'll tell you a lot about the internal workings of what they think."

A spokeswoman from the Munster Rugby Supporters Club declined to comment but said it was not representative of the majority of fans.

Munster supporters' internet forums were split by Francis's comments with some berating the former Irish international for his views.

"What is Francis trying to say? Will Liverpool fans support Man United in the Champions League final next weekend because they are also an English team? Will I support Leinster because they are in a final? You can bet I won't. And I couldn't give a hoot what Francis thinks about who I support," one said.

Another posted: "As much as I dislike Francis, I think he's right about Munster fans supporting an English team over Leinster, it is a disgrace."

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