New season & New Kit for Munster Rugby

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Keith Earls, Paul O’Connell and Conor Murray 15/8/2013IT HAS been a busy off season for Munster rugby. Ahead of their opening preseason friendly this weekend against Gloucester at Thomond Park, (Kick off on Saturday 24 is at 5pm) the rugby side has announced a new car and shirt sponsors as well as launching their new playing kit for the 2013/14 season.
Kit manufacturers adidas and Munster Rugby officially launched the club’s 2013/14 home and alternate kit last week.
The new Munster collegiate red ‘home’ jersey includes new features such as an adidas rugby collar with the six Munster counties embroidered into it, sub blue shoulder panelling and mesh panelling under the arms. The sub blue alternate jersey has a camouflage pattern embossed with the counties of Munster to create both textural and aesthetic appeal and also includes a new collegiate red adidas rugby collar stand and mesh panelling under the arm.
The jersey and kit are available to buy from August 23 in all Life Style Sports Stores and online at www.lifestylesports.com/munster
Munster’s new jersey sponsor is Bank of Ireland. The bank, which also sponsors Ulster and Leinster Rugby, has an agreement which is set to run for five seasons, continuing a long relationship with the Bank of Ireland dating back 15 years to 1998, firstly as main sponsor and more recently as official banking partner.
The game this weekend against Gloucester forms part of the ‘SEAT Series’. The three year deal will see SEAT become the official car partner to Munster Rugby and title sponsor of the Munster Schools Senior and Junior Cups (see Motoring page).
With deals aplenty off the field, Munster have added two players to their existing ranks for the coming season. Leinster winger Andrew Conway will join South African winger Gerhard van den Heever as the new recruits.
Conway (22), a senior schools cup winner with Blackrock College, joins from Munster’s rival province in a move that has raised eye brows amongst the rugby fraternity.
“I wanted to experience something new.  Maybe I had come to a bit of a standstill at Leinster. I was getting game-time, but if everyone was fit and firing at the time I wouldn’t really have been making those Heineken 23s or the big games with Munster,” added the winger, who can also double as a full back.
The decision to switch between the two rivals was something Conway had thought long and hard about.
“I chatted to Rob Penney, I chatted to Simon Mannix, Niall O’Donovan, my old pair, a few of my mates. Took all things into account and decided to come down here and try something new, get out of my comfort zone,” continued Conway.
Fans of both provinces were shocked to see Conway being allowed move between the sides. Rumours had circulated that Conway was being let go by Leinster, but these were unfounded and something Conway was able to clear up.
“I was offered a contract by Leinster, so it wasn’t really a case of Leinster letting me go. It was just me talking to Munster and Leinster and coming to a decision on my own. I wasn’t contracted to Leinster, as everyone seemed to think at the time. So it was my own decision.”
Munster head coach and now scrum coach, Rob Penney, for one, is excited at the prospect of the new season and he hopes that having a core group of players still in situ from last season will help with his side’s development.
“It is going to be great to get the boots on in anger again. The lads have done a great pre-season now and they are all just looking forward to getting on the paddock. Hopefully a good performance on Saturday will get us off to a good start. We brought up a few lads from the academy too. The beauty about this season for me is that have a very stable group. The core of the guys are still very much intact. So, some of the learning stuff we did last season should be easier to pick up this year. The changes that we are making for this season then are able to happen more quickly,” Penney added.
Munster face Gloucester this Saturday 24, in Thomond Park before taking on London Irish on Friday August 30 in Musgrave Park, Cork. Kick off for that game is at 7pm.