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Heineken Cup – Did You Know?

Heineken Cup – Did You Know?

Which two Munster players were replacements for Leinster when the sides last met in the Heineken Cup? How many semi-finals have Munster appeared in? Which four Dublin venues will Leinster have played in the Heineken Cup come Saturday? All this and more in our Heineken Cup trivia.

Munster are appearing in their eighth Heineken Cup semi-final, while Leicester Tigers are in the last four for the sixth time and Leinster the fourth occasion.

Munster beat Leinster 30-6 in their only previous meeting in the Heineken Cup – in the 2006 semi-final at Lansdowne Road.

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Niall Ronan and Kieran Lewis were both unused Leinster replacements in that game. They both now play for Munster.

There are as many as 18 players from the 30 who started that semi-final three years ago who could lock horns again at Croke Park: 

Leinster (8): Girvan Demsey, Shane Horgan, Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Felipe Contepomi, Malcolm O’Kelly, Cameron Jowitt and Jamie Heaslip.

Munster (10): Ian Dowling, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer, Federico Pucciariello, Jerry Flannery, John Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Paul O’Connell, Denis Leamy and David Wallace.

Both Croke Park and the Millennium Stadium are new Heineken Cup semi-final venues.

However, while the Millennium Stadium has staged three Heineken Cup finals, this will be the first tournament match at Croke Park – making it the 85th venue to host Heineken Cup action.

Three Munster players – Ronan O’Gara, John Hayes and Donncha O’Callaghan – have appeared in a record seven semi-finals.

The 2003/04 semi-finals had the greatest combined attendance of 82,500 when the ties were played at Lansdowne Road (Munster v London Wasps, 48,500) and at Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux (Toulouse v Biarritz Olympique, 34,000).

That Munster v London Wasps attendance is the tournament record for a semi-final but both Croke Park (82,300) and the Millennium Stadium (74,500) have greater capacities.

Former Scottish referee Jim Fleming – now an ERC Board member – controlled a record four Heineken Cup semi-finals. Alan Lewis, Alain Rolland (both Ireland) and Chris White (England) have each refereed three tournament semi-finals.

The only semi-final requiring extra time was the 1998 all-French clash between Toulouse and Brive. Toulouse lost that one on a 2-1 try count.

The 26 Heineken Cup semi-finals have been watched by 675,701 fans – an average attendance of 25,989.

The highest score in a semi-final has been the 37 points scored by Leicester Tigers against Toulouse in 1997 and the 37 points scored by London Wasps against Munster in 2004.

The biggest winning margin has been 27 points, when Toulouse beat Swansea 30-3 in 1996.

Two clubs have scored five tries in a semi-final, Leicester Tigers against Toulouse (1997) and Wasps against Munster (2004).

Only one of the 26 semi-finals has failed to produce a try – Biarritz Olympique’s 18-9 win over Bath Rugby in San Sebastian in 2006.

Munster’s John Hayes, Ronan O’Gara, Peter Stringer and David Wallace are aiming to reach their fifth Heineken Cup final.

Another Irishman, Leicester Tigers full-back Geordan Murphy, is hoping to reach his fourth final by beating the Blues.

Ben Kay and Lewis Moody (an unused replacement in the victory over Munster in the 2001 final) are also hoping to do the same.

Munster prop John Hayes will become the leading caps holder in the Heineken Cup if he plays against Leinster. He equalled club-mate Anthony Foley’s tournament record of 86 appearances in the quarter-finals and will go on to 87 in the semi-final.

Since his Heineken Cup debut for Munster against Petrarca on 19 September, 1998, Hayes has missed only two of Munster’s European matches. They were the first game of the 2001/02 campaign at home to Castres Olympique and the fifth game that season against Harlequins.

Leinster team-mates Brian O’Driscoll and Shane Horgan are each one try short of an ERC Elite Award and joining Dafydd James and Vincent Clerc as the only players to score 25 Heineken Cup tries.

Munster will join Toulouse on 101 Heineken Cup games played – and then overtake them if they reach the final.

Croke Park will be the fourth Dublin venue at which Leinster have played in the Heineken Cup.

Their first home game in the tournament was at Lansdowne Road against Pontypridd in front of a crowd of 4,000 in December, 1995. They won 23-22.

They then met Pau at Donnybrook in the Pool stages of the 1996/97 competition, again in front of a 4,000 crowd. They won that one 25-23. Their first Heineken Cup tie at the RDS was in October, 2005, against Bath, when 13,152 fans saw them lose 25-23.

Munster, Leinster, Leicester Tigers and Cardiff Blues (including Cardiff RFC) have been represented by:

113 players have represented Munster in 100 games
128 players have represented Leinster in 87 games
140 players have represented Cardiff Blues in 82 games
120 players have represented Leicester Tigers in 89 games

Cardiff Blues are bidding to become the first team to win every match on their way to the final since the advent of home and away pool matches in 1998/99.

Leicester Tigers wing Scott Hamilton is hoping to emulate Rod Kafer by winning a Super Rugby and Heineken Cup medal in consecutive years.

Kafer was a Super 12 winner with ACT Brumbies in 2001 and then a Heineken Cup champion with Leicester Tigers in 2002. Hamilton won the Super 14 crown last May with Canterbury Crusaders – his third title after a Super 12 victory in 2005 and a Super 14 triumph in 2006.

In that 2006 Super 14 final Hamilton went head-to-head with Cardiff Blues skipper Paul Tito. In heavy fog it was the Crusaders who beat the Wellington Hurricanes, leaving Tito to wait until the Blues’ EDF Energy Cup final win over Gloucester to win his first title.

The only Super 12/14 and Heineken Cup winners to date have been Kafer and Doug Howlett (Super 12 with the Blues in 2005 and Heineken Cup with Munster in 2008).

Leicester Tigers centre Aaron Mauger is also chasing a south/north double. He was a Super 12 and 14 winner with the Crusaders in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006.