7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
When the Heineken Cup returns to our screens on Friday night, it signals the start of 48 hours of first-rate rugby.
The top eight teams in Europe will be whittled down to just four - But who will come away smiling, read my verdict below.
LLANELLI SCARLETS v BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE
I think this will be an incredibly tight game, one of the ties of the round.
Biarritz have got some of the form players in Europe, you think about Brusque, Yachvili and especially Betsen who was my player of the Six Nations. That is a powerful set of individuals, and, come the end of the Pool Stages, I thought they were as professional and proficient a team as I have seen from France for some while.
Against that, the Scarlets have been in this position so many times, Stradey will be a cauldron on a Friday night.
If it were a neutral venue then I might just stray to Biarritz, but with Stradey Park being the factor that it is, I think the Scarlets will win.
But they cannot afford any ill discipline that we saw against Perpignan. If they are not 100 per cent on their game they will lose.
I'm going to go for Llanelli, but I think it will be a really tight thriller.
TOULOUSE v EDINBURGH
Todd Blackadder is a great player, but he's not superman, and I don't think Edinburgh have what it takes to overturn that heavy defeat they suffered in Toulouse at the end of the Pool Stages.
Toulouse are just ticking over, going through the gears - a little bit like France in the Six Nations.
They have so many class players, even with Ellissalde out, players like Michalak, Jauzion, and Labit - who is the heartbeat of that team - they will be too strong for Edinburgh.
Toulouse will definitely march to the last four.
MUNSTER v STADE FRANCAIS
I think Thomond Park is probably the hardest place to play rugby in the whole of Europe. Munster are a hard team to play at the best of times, but at home they are pretty much invincible. They demonised Gloucester on two occasions, and the odds are certainly going to be stacked against Nick Mallett's team.
However, Stade are a confident side. I was very impressed about the way they went about beating Leicester and Ulster to qualify from Pool 1.
They have a lineout to really challenge Donnacha O'Callaghan and Paul O'Connell. If they can get that lineout working efficiently, that will be a key area of the battle.
Of course, Dominguez and Pichot have been there so many times before, and they have more of a chance than a lot of people think.
Everyone thinks Christian Cullen will be the man who makes the difference for Munster, but if he does play he will be pretty rusty, and he won't be familiar with Munster's style. He could turn out to be just as much a weakness as strength.
I will go for a Munster win, but, as with Llanelli v Biarritz it will be very close, and it wouldn't be that much of a shock if there is a French victory.
LONDON WASPS v GLOUCESTER
This is a real contrast of styles. Wasps are the most powerful, physical team in England, very good at retaining ball.
Gloucester are a different sort of team. They are far more fluid than Gloucester teams of old. They do have power in the scrum, they have an excellent lineout with Alex Brown, but the strength of Gloucester is their ability to move the ball and point of attack very quickly.
With Garvey and Simpson-Daniel they have two of the best running wingers in the Heineken Cup, and Gloucester feel they owe Wasps one.
Wasps are going to go into this game as favourites, with Dallaglio and Howley providing a very powerful axis at 8 and 9, but if I'm going to look for a shock then this could be the one.
I'd take Gloucester to win at Wasps. They will have huge support, and I think after last season's Zurich final defeat, it could be revenge for the west country team.