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Euro rookies in all-French affair

Thu, 24 Jan 2013 12:46
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One of the most anticipated weekends in the rugby calendar will get under way with the all-French clash of Clermont and Montpellier at Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday, April 6 following Thursday’s announcement by ERC of the dates and kick-off times for the European Cup quarterfinals.

Saracens will be up against last season’s beaten finalists, Ulster, in the second of the Saturday fixtures with a venue to be announced at a later date, while Sunday’s matches on April 7 will kick-off with the meeting of pool stage top seeds Harlequins and two-time European Cup champions Munster at the Twickenham Stoop.

With all matches broadcast live, and with capacity crowds expected at every venue, the curtain will come down on the weekend when French heavyweights Toulon take on Leicester Tigers, who won the tournament in 2001 and 2002, in the first ever meeting between the clubs in Europe.

Five of the clubs in the last eight - Clermont, Harlequins, Leicester, Munster and Ulster - have European titles to their names, while Montpellier will be appearing in the knockout stage for the first time.

European Cup quarterfinals:

Saturday, April 6

Clermont v Montpellier
Venue:
Stade Marcel Michelin
Kick-off: 16.40 (14.40 GMT)

Saracens v Ulster
Venue:
TBC
Kick-off: 18.30 (17.30 GMT)
 
Sunday, April 7

Harlequins v Munster
Venue: Twickenham Stoop
Kick-off: 14.00 (13.00 GMT)

Toulon v Leicester Tigers
Venue: TBC
Kick-off: 17.30 (15.30 GMT)

European Cup quarterfinal notes:

Clermont v Montpellier

The match at Stade Marcel Michelin will be the first meeting of the clubs in a European tournament
Clermont have now gone 54 matches unbeaten at home
Clermont reached the last four last season before losing 19-15 to eventual champions Leinster in a memorable semifinal in Bordeaux
Morgan Parra is the leading scorer from the pool stage with 90 points

Saracens v Ulster
The game will mark Saracens’ third appearance in a European Cup quarterfinal
Ulster bucked a tournament trend last season by with an away quarterfinal victory over Munster at Thomond Park
Owen Farrell set a tournament record of 10 penalties in a match during Saracens’ key win over Racing Metro at Stade de la Beaujoire, Nantes in Round Five
Saracens’ Director of Rugby, Mark McCall, was Ulster’s captain in the club’s European Cup-winning season of 1999 but missed the final through injury

Harlequins v Munster
Harlequins came through the pool stage as No.1 seeds for the first time in the club’s history
Munster have reached the knockout stage of the tournament 14 times in the past 15 seasons
The last time the clubs met in European competition, Harlequins pulled off a famous 2011 Challenge Cup semifinal victory at Thomond Park
Munster have played in 13 European Cup quarterfinals, winning nine, including three away from home: against Stade Francais in 2002, Leicester Tigers in 2003 and Gloucester in 2008

Toulon v Leicester Tigers
Toulon’s only appearance to date in the last eight was in 2011 when they were defeated by Perpignan in front of a record quarterfinal crowd of 55,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona
Leicester have played in 10 European Cup quarterfinals, winning six and losing four
Each club has one player in their European Cup squads who have a tournament winner’s medal: Freddie Michalak (with Toulouse in 2003 and ‘05) and Tigers’ Geordan Murphy in 2001 and ‘02
Leicester have won one of their 10 tournament quarterfinals away from home when they beat Leinster at Lansdowne Road in 2005

European Cup semifinals:
Matches to be played on the weekend of April 26-28
The winner of the first-named quarterfinal match in each semifinal pairing will have home country advantage
Semifinal 1: Saracens or Ulster v Toulon or Leicester Tigers
Semifinal 2: Clermont or Montpellier v Harlequins or Munster
 
European Cup final:
Date:
Saturday, May 18
Venue: Aviva Stadium
Kick-off: 17.00 (16.00 GMT)

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