Following a dramatic conclusion to the pool stages of the Heineken Cup which confirmed the line-up for the last-eight of the 2011/12 tournament, ERC has announced the dates, venues and kick-off times for the quarter-final matches.
Edinburgh will become the first Scottish club to stage a home game in the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club tournament when they kick off what promises to be another riveting weekend of action against four-time champions Toulouse at Murrayfield on Saturday, 7 April.
Defending champions Leinster are next up against the Cardiff Blues at the Aviva Stadium where are they are undefeated to date in all four of their Heineken Cup games staged at the 50,000-capacity Dublin venue.
Top seeds Munster, who won all six of their pool fixtures, will meet provincial rivals Ulster for the first time in the tournament at Thomond Park on Sunday 8 April.
On the same day the sole English representative, Saracens, will round off the weekend with a mouth-watering clash with Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road.
2011/12 HEINEKEN CUP QUARTER-FINALS:
Saturday, April 7 –
Edinburgh v Toulouse, Murrayfield, 3pm (live Sky Sports/FR2/Canal+)
LEINSTER v Cardiff Blues, Aviva Stadium, 5.45pm (live Sky Sports/Sport+)
Sunday, April 8 –
MUNSTER v ULSTER, Thomond Park, 1.45pm (live Sky Sports/Sport+)
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne, Vicarage Road 4.30pm (live Sky Sports/FR2)
QUARTER-FINAL NOTES –
Edinburgh v Toulouse
• Edinburgh are the first Scottish club to win a Heineken Cup pool
• Edinburgh last reached the quarter-finals in 2004
• Edinburgh met Toulouse in that quarter-finals eight years ago and lost 36-10 at Le Stadium
• Six players who featured in the 2004 match are still part of the Toulouse squad: Clement Poitrenaud, Vincent Clerc, Yannick Jauzion, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Jean Bouilhou and Romain Milo-Chluski
• Toulouse have a 50% record in away quarter-finals. They beat Dax (1997) and Biarritz (2011), but lost to Ulster (1999) and Cardiff Blues (2009)
LEINSTER v Cardiff Blues
• Leinster have won all four of their Heineken Cup matches to date at the Aviva Stadium beating Clermont Auvergne (pool, 2010/11), Leicester Tigers (quarter-final, 2010/11), Toulouse (semi-final, 2010/11) and Bath (pool, 2011/12)
• Leinster and the Cardiff Blues have never met in a quarter-final before. The current champions played Cardiff in the semi-final of the inaugural 1995/96 campaign at Lansdowne Road and lost 23-15
• Leinster are unbeaten in their last 12 Heineken Cup matches
MUNSTER v ULSTER
• This quarter-final will be the first match between the two provinces in the Heineken Cup
• Munster have met Irish opponents in the tournament twice before, beating Leinster in the 2006 semi-finals and losing to the same opposition in the 2009 semi-finals
• Munster won all of their pool matches for the first time this season. No side which has achieved that feat has gone on to win the Heineken Cup
• In 1999, Ulster became the first Irish province to be crowned European champions
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne
• Clermont Auvergne have lost all three of their quarter-finals to date. Each match was away from home – Toulouse (2000), Castres (2002) and Leinster (2010)
• Saracens hooker John Smit made his Heineken Cup debut for Clermont against the Scarlets in 2007.
• Saracens have appeared in one quarter-final to date, defeating the Ospreys 19-10 at Vicarage Road (2008).
• Andy Farrell played in that 2008 quarter-final and his son, Owen, could line out at Vicarage Road on April 8
• Saracens are the only English club to reach the quarter-finals this season
• On all three occasions the Heineken Cup final has been staged at Twickenham Stadium, it has been won by an English club – Northampton Saints (2000) and London Wasps (2004 and 2007)
HEINEKEN CUP SEMI-FINALS:
Matches to be played over the weekend of April 28-29 –
Saracens or Clermont Auvergne v LEINSTER or Cardiff Blues
MUNSTER or ULSTER v Edinburgh Rugby or Toulouse
The 17th Heineken Cup final will be played at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, May 19 (kick-off 5pm).