Heineken Cup Newswire Issue 15: Ulster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby & ASM Clermont Auvergne along with Leinster Will Contest The Semi-Finals Later This Month Includes 22 Page Pullout Supplement

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Defending champions Leinster Rugby are hunting a third Heineken Cup title in four years – and bidding to become only the second club to claim back-to-back

Ulster Rugby, Edinburgh Rugby and ASM Clermont Auvergne will contest the semi-finals later this month along with the reigning champions.

Edinburgh created tournament history last weekend by becoming the first club from Scotland to qualify for the prestigious last four while Clermont have also reached the semi-finals for the first time after three losing quarter-finals and will take on Leinster at Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux on Sunday, 29 April. Ulster, the 1999 champions, will meet Edinburgh at the Aviva Stadium a day earlier in the first semi-final.

“Facing Clermont away in France will be a tough challenge,” said Leinster prop Mike Ross. “They were without Thomas Domingo and Martin Scelzo in the quarter-final but they still have a formidable scrum and it will be like playing in a bear pit down there.

“It would be a massive coup to defend the Heineken Cup. Only one team has done that before and we know what a great team Leicester were 2000 to 2002. To match the feat of that Tigers team would be a great achievement and we couldn’t ask for any extra motivation.

“We are also still on course in the league and doing the double is something that hasn’t been done before so it’s all on the table for us and these are exciting times to be a Leinster player.”

The champions raced to a club record Heineken Cup quarter-final winning margin with their 34-3 runaway triumph over the Cardiff Blues after being 24 points ahead by the break.

“We had never won a quarter-final by more than seven points – and last year’s game against Leicester Tigers was probably the toughest game of the campaign – so it was unusual to be so far ahead at half-time of a Heineken Cup quarter-final,” said Ross.

“The conditions at the Aviva Stadium were almost perfect for rugby and just watching the backs scoring under the posts was brilliant, especially when we didn’t really have to hit any rucks for Brian O’Driscoll’s try.

“We won and we won well but there are still things we have to look at. We have a head coach who is a perfectionist. He keeps the hammer down on us to keep improving and it works.

“The game changed in the second half and it can be difficult to keep going mentally when you are so far ahead but we know that won’t happen in the semi-final and Clermont will pose a lot more challenges for us going forward.

“We have to be hard on ourselves and there are enough leaders in the team to keep things going.”


Over 20,000 tickets for the Heineken Cup semi-final between Ulster Rugby and Edinburgh Rugby to be played at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 28 April, were snapped on the first day of the public sale – with 10,000 going in the first hour.

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