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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The Blues are particularly strong in the scrum and line-out and these are sure to be key areas on Sunday. Whilst Leicester will have a strong set piece which could challenge Cardiff, in my opinion the Blues will have all the answers. Coupled with the physicality, pace and power that comes from their backline, I expect the Blues to get plenty of points.
Discipline on both sides is going to be absolutely key and could have a significant effect on the result. The Blues have the reliable duo of Ben Blair and Leigh Halfpenny, whilst Leicester are well equipped whether Toby Flood or Sam Vesty is in the Number 10 shirt. The last thing you want to be doing is giving the opposition an easy 3 points in the semi-final with so much at stake.
For those Cardiff players who have been selected for Lions selection, this is certain to give them a huge amount of confidence. It's also a sign of how well Cardiff are playing at the moment that they are providing six players on the plane to South Africa. From a Leicester point of view, Tom Croft will want to prove a point and he's got a great opportunity on a huge stage in international conditions to prove us selectors wrong. This is what Heineken Cup rugby is all about, matching the pressure and intensity of the international game. There's no better time for Croft to show what he can do on a big stage.
In the other semi final, Munster are a side that are currently brimming with all that sport is about - momentum, confidence and self belief and will be eying another Heineken Cup Final. They've certainly had the edge over Leinster in their games this season but I think that this all Irish affair will be very very close, perhaps decided by one or two points. The atmosphere promises to be fantastic with a world record crowd a distinct possibility - and with both teams knowing each other so well, it could be a classic.