The first of the Heineken Cup semi-finals takes place this afternoon when Munster take on mighty Toulouse at a packed Le Stadium Tououse.
The first of the Heineken Cup semi-finals takes place this afternoon when Munster take on mighty Toulouse at a packed Le Stadium Tououse. And the expectation among the rugby-mad fans of the French city is that their side will dispose of the Munster challenge and make it through to the May 24th final in Lansdowne Road.
It’s a French side that is laced with international talent, a mixture of experience in the considerable shape of Fabien Pelous, Christain Labit and Emile N’Tamack and pure talent in Clement Poitrenaud and Vincent Clerc, to name just two of the emerging young talent that ply their trade with the ‘Real Madrid’ of northern hemisphere club rugby.
What Munster may lack in the one-to-one comparisons, they more than make up for in the total sum of their parts. They have a marvellous work ethic that has seen them achieve more than any other Irish side, their record in European rugby unlikely to be surpassed in the future.
However, the challenge that lies ahead today is arguably as tough as they have encountered in the past and they will need to produce yet another performance of epic proportions if they are to make it through to their third final in four years.
Toulouse v Munster, 3pm (local time).
Toulouse. C Poitrenaud; E Ntamack, Y Jauzion, X Garbajosa, V Clerc; Y Delaigue, F Michalak; P Collazo, Y Bru, J-P Poux; D Gerard, F Pelous (capt); J Bouilhou, T Brennan, C Labit.
Replacements; B Lecouls, W Servat, G Lamboley, F Maka, J-B Elissalde, C Desbrosse, C Heymans.
Munster. J Staunton; J. Kelly, M Mullins, R Henderson, A Horgan; R O’Gara, P. Stringer; M Horan, F Sheahan, J. Hayes; D O’Callaghan, P. O’Connell; J. Williams (capt), A Quinlan, A Foley.
Replacements; J. Blaney, S Kerr, M O’Driscoll, D Leamy, D Malone, J. Holland, D. Crotty.
Referee; Chris White (England).