When the end came, at least CJ Stander was able to set off on his own, a luxury not always afforded to five-star Munster generals or world superstars.
At least the gods granted him the little pity of standing face to face against superior opponents and trading blow for blow, standing and fighting like hell until the last bell rang, tolling the death knell for his last. European campaign. Toulouse was just too beautiful.
Not as much as they’ll miss him.
This time, two years ago, the PRO14 went into black overdrive. Hadn’t five of their teams just requisitioned the majority of the Champions Cup quarter-final spots and that just showed theirs to be a better competition than the English Premiership and the Top 14?
Yes, they had and no, they had not. Of the five, only Leinster are still around and they did so without the hassle of having to play. Three of the other four – Munster, Glasgow, Edinburgh – had to show up if only to be eliminated. The fifth, Ulster, had already been demoted to the Challenge Cup.
The larger the image, the less it looks for the PRO14. Of ten teams in the two competitions, nine fell by the wayside, with Benetton being the lone exception. Edinburgh was the worst surrender given a runaround of seven tries by Racing. Scarlets ended the Welsh exodus, wiped out by Sale before half-time.
Cardiff, 12 points ahead in the last ten minutes against an Irish team from London reduced to 14 men for most of the second half, still managed to find a way out.
In a dazzling final, the Exiles hit them with three tries converted in eight minutes. Munster may be missing, but Declan Kidney is holding on to his flag – next stop in Bath on Saturday.
The national team may have won as many Grand Slam tournaments as England, France and Ireland put together in the past 16 years, but their regional teams continue to leave Europe with a haste indecent enough to arouse the suspicions that Nigel Farage must direct them.
Despite the presence of nine Welsh internationals, Ospreys duly collapsed at home in Newcastle, followed quickly by Dragons whose late implosion in Northampton matched that of Cardiff in London. Their disappearance will not have surprised Jerry Flannery, for his part.
“This season the PRO14 has not been competitive at all outside of the Irish teams,” said the Munster hooker in their two winning European finals, now a Harlequins coach. “It was the worst I have seen.”
Welsh referee Adam Jones granted the try subject to review for a possible double move which was duly examined in detail, but again no one saw fit to verify the legality of Caolin Blade’s score .