The tens of thousands of flag-waving and singing Munster supporters made the Cardiff crowd of 74,534 a sea of red and created a magnificent atmosphere that tested the hinges of the stadium's retractable roof to the limit as Trevor Halstead and Heineken Man-of-the- Match Peter Stringer crossed for tries and Ronan O'Gara added 13 points with his trusty boot. And Anthony Foley's team belatedly did it by reeling off eight straight wins after making a losing start and going down 27-13 at Sale Sharks on the opening weekend of the 11th season of European club rugby's premier tournament.
They recovered to reel off five Pool wins and then beat Perpignan in the quarter-finals and destroyed Leinster 30-6 in a remarkable all-Ireland semi-final, both at Lansdowne Road. Biarritz Olympique, appearing in their first final, killed off any lingering English hopes by beating Sale Sharks and then Bath Rugby in the knock-out stages but found a charged-up
Munster too hot to handle in the Welsh capital.
A year on and LONDON WASPS did their tournament double as they beat former double winners Leicester Tigers 25-9 at Twickenham on Sunday, 20 May, 2007 in front of a world record crowd for a Rugby Union club match of 81,076. Two tries from pre-planned and quickly taken line-out ploys rocked Leicester as scrum half Eoin Reddan and hooker Raphael Ibanez caught the Tigers napping, Ibanez becoming the first front five forward to score a Heineken Cup final try. Wasps' renown defence, with centre and Heineken Man-of-the-Match Fraser Waters prominent, kept the Tigers out and Lawrence Dallaglio's team have now joined Toulouse and Leicester Tigers in winning European club rugby's premier trophy twice.Wasps recovered from a Round 2 defeat at Perpignan to top Pool 1 and produced a stunning display at home to knock-out Leinster in the quarter-finals before ending Northampton Saints' hopes at the semi-final stage at the new tournament venue of the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
Llanelli Scarlets and Biarritz Olympique both came through the Pool stages with six from six but failed to go the distance, Northampton Saints pulling off a sensational giant-killing act against Biarritz in San Sebastian and the Scarlets going out to Leicester Tigers in the semi-finals.
Now it is the 15th season of Europe's premier club tournament and Leinster are the reigning Kings of Europe and the ones to beat as the Heineken Cup continues to repeatedly break new ground and records.
ERC 15 (1995 - 2010)
A microsite dedicated to celebrating the 1st 15 years of European Club Rugby