10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
And Llanelli Scarlets forwards Chris Wyatt and Robin McBryde are just one match away from joining Anthony Foley as the players to make a half century of tournament appearances. Victor Costello of Leinster Lions is three games away from that milestone.
In the summer of 2005 the Heineken Cup will celebrate its 10th birthday and, in tribute to the players and teams who have made such enormous contributions to the runaway success of the tournament, ERC have acknowledged those outstanding milestones with four special award categories.
In addition to those awards being presented for teams playing 50 matches and players reaching 50 tournament caps, players scoring 500 points and players crossing for 25 tries are also being recognised.
Toulouse, Munster and Llanelli Scarlets have all reached the half century of games landmark. With Leinster Lions and Leicester Tigers celebrating next weekend, Ulster (Round 5) and Cardiff Blues (Round 6) will make it "Magnificent Seven" in that elite '50 Club' by the end of the Pool stage.
On the individual player front, Diego Dominguez (Milan/Stade Francais), Ronan O'Gara (Munster) and Stephen Jones (Llanelli/Llanelli Scarlets) have broken through the 500 points barrier. The only player to reach 50 games so far is Anthony Foley (Munster), who is now on the 55-appearance mark.
But no player has reached the 25-try target. Michel Marfaing scored 24 Heineken Cup tries for Toulouse before hanging up his boots with his former team-mate Emile Ntamack and Dafydd James (Celtic Warriors) closing in on that elusive milestone.