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Heineken Cup Quarter-Finals Confirmed

Heineken Cup Quarter-Finals Confirmed

Following the completion of the pool stages today, the three Irish provinces who have qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals now know who they will face in early April.

It is an especially strong line-up in the last-eight of European rugby’s premier club tournament, with six former winners – sharing 13 Heineken Cup titles – still in contention.

Top seeds Ulster will host familiar opposition in Saracens, in what will be a repeat of last year’s quarter-final between the sides.

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Back then at Twickenham, Sarries took the spoils 27-16 but Ulster are the only unbeaten team left in Europea this season and are sure to give Mark McCall, their former centre and head coach, a ‘warm’ welcome to the redeveloped Ravenhill.

Ulster’s director of rugby David Humphreys, whose side will have a home semi-final if they get through, said: “We are obviously pleased to be on the home side of the semi-final draw, but that will only be relevant if we beat Saracens at Ravenhill in the quarter-final. Winning that game is what we are fully focused on now.

“Over the past few seasons we have made steady improvement. First we qualified, then last year we won our group but were away, now we have finished the pool stages as top seeds and have a home quarter-final.

“We are delighted to have the game at home and to be able open the newly redeveloped Ravenhill for the match.

“It will also be great to welcome Mark McCall – with his strong connection with the province as both a player and coach – back to Belfast for the game.

“Last season we were hugely disappointed with the way we performed at Twickenham against Saracens. Now we have the opportunity to lay those ghosts to rest.”

Two of the quarter-final ties will be played in Ireland, with Munster securing home advantage on the back of their six-try 38-6 dismissal of Edinburgh this afternoon.

Rob Penney’s men have won five successive pool games since losing at Murrayfield in the first round, and will relish the opportunity to host four-time champions Toulouse at Thomond Park for the first time.

Of course, that mouth-watering encounter with bring back memories of the province’s famous 2008 final win over the French giants.

Leinster, the winners of Pool 1 this term, will travel to reigning Heineken Cup champions Toulon in April.

It promises to be another hugely-anticipated heavyweight clash, and the men in blue will have no fear of playing in France having beaten Racing Metro 92, Clermont Auvergne and Castres Olympique away in recent seasons.

Leinster head coach Matt O’Connor said: “At the start of the year one of our goals as a squad and as a management team was to qualify for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals and we’ve done that as pool winners.

“It has taken a big effort from the players to come through a tough pool with five wins out of six and they deserve great credit for that.

“There are no easy games in the Heineken Cup and a trip to Toulon is further proof of that.

“They have a fantastic squad of players and their form in the Heineken has been excellent with only one loss in a pool containing Cardiff Blues, Exeter and Glasgow meaning they have earned their home quarter-final.

“I know from the mentality of my players that they want to be tested against the best, and ultimately if we are to progress in this competition then we have to play and beat the best and I am confident that we have the capabilities to do that.”

Clermont, last year’s runners-up, ensured home advantage for themselves with a bonus point victory over Racing today. Leicester Tigers, who lost to Ulster in round 6, will be their quarter-final opponents at the Stade Marcel Michelin.


ULSTER v Saracens
Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers
MUNSTER v Toulouse

– Matches to be played over the weekend of April 4/5/6

Related Links –

Home Comforts For Ulster And Leinster If They Progress