12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
This coming weekend may turn out to be an historic one for the Celtic League as attendances at regular season fixtures should pass through the half million barrier for the first time.
At the start of the weekend's round of matches - round 20 - 473,807 fans have already passed through the turnstiles, just over 26,000 short of the magic mark. And with the Ospreys at home to Munster at the 20,280-capacity Liberty Stadium, Ulster welcoming Cardiff to Ravenhill (12,300), as well as Connacht hosting their first ever floodlit game at the Sportsground (against Edinburgh), there is every chance the record could be passed on Friday night.
Tournament Director David Jordan said: "The importance of this milestone is not to be underestimated, attendances have increased significantly over the past three seasons and fans are endorsing the exciting brand of rugby played in the Celtic League by coming to watch a game.
"We have seen the attendance record at a single game broken five times already this season, and at 15,183, it is around 50% higher than the best recorded last season. Overall attendances have increased almost 20% compared to last year with the average Celtic League gate now well over 5,000.
"Over the same period of time we have seen the national teams prosper - Wales completed an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in 2005 and Ireland took the Triple Crown trophy this year whilst Scotland recorded victories over England and France in the same tournament.
"With three rounds of Celtic League games still to be played, there are plenty of meaningful matches to come - not only is Heineken Cup qualification for next season still to be determined but also the Celtic League title itself, so we can expect more bumper crowds for the remainder of the season."