A Munster fan recounts his Heineken Cup trip to Llanelli in Wales, where the Heineken Cup champions were slain by the Scarlets at a packed Stradey Park.

“Two weeks after a climatic end to the Six Nations, Heineken Cup fever returns. I’ve packed my bags to sample some of it. I’m not travelling to Spain, the south of France or even London, this is hard core sampling….this is Llanelli.

None of the glitz or glamour of other destinations. The Turks (so called for their somewhat mythical wild behaviour) are unique. Much like their Munster rivals tonight they thrive off pride and passion.

Llanelli is about 20minutes from Swansea by train and the Scarlets play in Stradey Park, a soulful old fashioned stadium soon to be replaced. Naturally no tour is complete without chancing some of the local hostelries, there’s the Turn Style Sports bar, Wetherspoons and White Horse Inn all progressively closer to the ground. Fans mingle happily as is rugby’s tradition and for every “Fields of Athenry” there is in turn a “Bread of Heaven” and a little light ribbing for good measure.

The ground heaves in a sea of red before kick-off. The atmosphere is ratcheted up by both sets of fans. The Scarlets throw fire and brimstone and a few sospans (Llanelli is also famous for making tinplate sospans!) at Munster. Stephen Jones, the Scarlets out half, marshals his troops and Alix Popham their number 8 destroys all before him. Munster are slain and their reign as Heineken Cup champions is all over. Llanelli are worthy winners 24-15.

So back to Swansea for a night cap. For every weary fan there is Wind Street. A plethora of bars and nightclubs…think Temple Bar in Dublin…multiply it and throw in less clothes. A place to forget your troubles and plan your next Heineken Cup trip. Munster will not be in Twickenham on the 20 May but I will be wearing my red jersey with pride.”

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