Stand up and fight: a Munster win for the ages

rugby27 May 2023 19:06| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
© Backpage Pix

If you ever get the chance to chat to any Munster fan around the bars of Limerick, chances are they will regale you with a tale of Munster’s finest hour..

Until Saturday that would have been their famous 1978 win over the All Blacks where a small band of red warriors defeated the mighty men in black.

But in far away Cape Town on Saturday they wrote another tale, and while it may not ever replace the famous All Black victory, Munster’s legendary matches added another chapter of heroics against the odds.

In front of 56 334 fans that were draped in blue and were heavily in favour of the home side, Munster produced a performance that was worthy of the name champions. Where some teams were to fall in the cacophony of the local noise, they grew into giants.

Where so many teams have fallen to John Dobson’s side in the past on this same ground Munster stood firm. The record books show they are still the only side that the Stormers haven’t beaten.

The same side that ended a 22-match unbeaten run for the Stormers was the one that ended their dream of a second trophy in two years and another chance to make Cape Town smile.

Instead Graham Rowntree’s side were exceptional. They won every single battle on the field by a country mile.

For another famous day in Munster’s history they stood up to fight.


Thormond Park often belts out the tune to Stand up and Fight - the Munster song coined in legend that has become a staple part of the team’s brand.

Stand up and fight comes from the American Opera Carmen Jones, which tells the story of a woman and a boxer - a tale of a fatal attraction which is based on Carmen.

And it fits Munster to a tee.

For an outsider it may be difficult to understand, but Munster are a team of battlers. A team that doesn’t lie down. A team that never goes away.

And for Rowntree it was a personal triumph in his first year as head coach. A maiden win in an era where Munster’s neighbours had dominated so much. For the next year at least, it won’t be Dublin with the bragging rights.

Stand up and Fight puts it well. For anyone who saw Munster’s performance on Saturday they will ring a bell.

I got a trainer man who taught me all I know.

Sure feels good to have him in my corner,

Hear his voice a-whisp’rin’ low:

“Big boy, remember, You must remember

Stand up and fight until you hear the bell,

Stand toe to toe, Trade blow for blow,

Keep punchin’ till you make yer punches tell,

Show that crowd what ya know!

Until you hear that bell, That final bell,

Stand up and fight like hell!”


On Saturday Munster stood up and fought. For their province, for their teammates. They fought like hell.

They put the crowd out of their heads, and they took on the Stormers in their own backyard.

The stats of the game will tell a tale of 55 per cent possession and virtually the same in territory. It will tell a story of domination - both in the physical battle and the aerial one.

It will tell a story of a team that defied the odds and won six consecutive games away from home on their way to the final. A team that finished fifth and stunned the United Rugby Championship.


One of the legends of the 1978 win was told by Alan English in the book Stand Up and Fight that tells the story of the famous victory.

“More than 100 000 people claimed to have watched the game, even though the ground could only hold 12 000.”

It didn’t seem like 5 000 fans had travelled to Cape Town as was claimed - team management put the number closer to 2 000.

But anyone want to bet against a theory that by the time this victory sets in and is told across generations that number will multiply by thousands.

It was a massive night for the red army. A win that was built on everything that Munster stood for, and have missed for so long. Their first trophy since 2011.

And as their newest favourite Zombie by the Cranberries filled an emptying stadium left with only red jerseys they knew the wait was over.

This was a win for the ages. A win so famous it will go down in legend.

The day in Cape Town that Munster stood up and fought.