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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
THOMAS CASTAIGNEDE (the Guardian, 26/01/04): 'The divorce lawyers will have to look out for an influx of rugby fans next Monday. European rugby widows needn't expect much domestic help from their husbands and boyfriends next weekend; the final round of the Heineken Cup Pool matches offers enough suspense to keep fans glued to their televisions. The main change that has sparked all this is the introduction of bonus points ... for once, it seems, the powers that be have made a decision before having a few beers ... this has been a European Cup packed with surprises.'
PAUL ACKFORD (The Sunday Telegraph, 25/01/04, The Dragons v Leicester Tigers): 'A blistering game. Brim full of passion and in doubt right to the end. And all this in the tightest Pool of the tournament where no side had forced an away victory until last night. Blissful. This Heineken Cup might be a nightmare to follow in terms of who is doing what with the matches spread over the weekend but the games themselves have been riveting.'
DAVID HANDS (The Times, 26/01/04): 'Keep your money in your pocket as far as the qualifiers for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals are concerned.'
ROB KITSON (The Guardian, 27/01/04): 'It is in England's interests to have as many challengers as possible in the last eight of European club rugby's elite tournament.'
CHRIS HEWETT (The Independent, 28/01/04): 'Rugby officials the world over spend most of their working week trying to make the sums add up, and the administrators of the Heineken Cup, the jewel in the crown of the Northern Hemisphere game, are no different. Next week the board of the ERC will address the burning arithmetical issue of the moment: the fact that they have only 23 teams for next season's 24-team tournament.'
NICK MALLET (Stade Franà§ais coach on club website): 'The Heineken Cup is fantastic.'
TREVOR BRENNAN (Toulouse forward on club website): 'In Toulouse, like in all the other French clubs, everybody realises that the Heineken Cup is the greatest competition that exists. Defending the European title won last season was clearly targeted by the players as the priority of the new season.'