Munster wingers launch legal action against club
An unconfirmed 1992 sighting of a Munster winger in action
Archive Story from 2005
In an unprecedented legal move in Cork, Ireland, a group of Munster three-quarters are taking their employers to court over being charged entry fees to home Munster games.
The players are outraged that they are charged the full entry fee to home games at Thomond Park despite occasionally being called on to make tackles and retrieve opposition kicks.
If the move is successful it could have major repercussions for the game worldwide, with former wingers for teams such as England, South Africa (under Naas Botha), Gloucester and many others lining up for compensation.
The lawsuit is being handled by local Cork firm Jackson & Son and pushes for ‘recognition of the work and duties of our clients by Munster Rugby/IRFU’ and ‘a significant reduction in entrance fees for home matches’. Solicitor James Edwards told the East Terrace that the claims were ‘realistic’. 'We accept we are not going to get free entry, we are just pushing for some recognition of our client’s efforts,' said Edwards.
Munster, famous for the sturdiness and tenacity of their packs, rarely pass the ball past the number twelve shirt in major European and Celtic League games. Indeed, it is even common for Munster fly halves to be completely unaware of the first names of Munster wings. Club officials have, over the years, constantly refused to buckle on this issue and are calling the lawsuit ‘ludicrous’. When asked for more details by The East Terrace, a spokesman for the province issued the following statement on behalf of the club:
'It would be financial suicide to grant free or discounted entry to non-playing Munster members. In these modern times of financial worry and fiscal concerns in professional rugby, we must tighten, not loosen, the moneybags. Whilst the club greatly appreciates the effort and commitment of these ‘interactive ball-boys’, as we call them, we cannot simply give them anymore than we already do. At present they have free replica Munster kits, use of club facilities, away travel on various Irish and European trips and, most crucially, the best damn view in the stadium.'
The issue could raise tricky legal situations as professional players in Ireland are centrally contracted to the IRFU. At press time it cannot be clarified if the Munster three-quarters are also part of this central contract system. 'We realise we are never going to get completely free entry, however, we want to get the same discounts pensioners and children get at least,' said a spokesman for the group.
The lawsuit has attracted the interest of a South African charity that looks after the interests of wingers who played outside the great South African Naas Botha. Botha, winner of twenty-eight caps and famous for his huge boot, is believed to have made just fifty-three passes in his entire career. He was responsible for countless Northern Transvaal and Bok wingers falling into sleep-induced comas or simply going insane through boredom. The African charity group Justice for the Victims of Botha’s Boot (JVBB) are following the legal action with interest. 'This could really kick up a storm,' said the JVBB chairman.