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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.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 Scottish flag-bearers made it four from four with their 23-0 triumph at Leeds Tykes yesterday (Sunday) to leave them out on their own as the only one of the 24 teams still able to boast a 100 per cent record as Gloucester and Llanelli went down to first defeats of the campaign at Munster and Agen respectively.
However, Toulouse have claimed three bonus points to Edinburgh Rugby's one to leave the defending champions just two points adrift in Pool 2.
"Obviously we are delighted to have points on the board but we are regretting the fact that perhaps we could have picked up a few more bonus points," said coach Frank Hadden.
"Toulouse are also going extremely well in our group and we are still getting to grips with the new points system. I am convinced our group will be going right down to the wire, to the final Pool match
"However, I feel the bonus points are a huge boost for the tournament. It has made it much more exciting for everyone while also making it fairer for teams when it comes to separating sides for qualification for the knock-out stages. Most of the runners-up in the past finished on similar match points but this time I feel bonus points will make all the difference."
Edinburgh Rugby picked up the first of their priceless two away wins of the campaign when they walked off 32-16 winners against Neath-Swansea Ospreys back on 12 December - but Hadden expects the Welsh region to be a much tougher nut to crack this time at Meadowbank on Friday night.
The Neath-Swansea Ospreys are still searching for both their first win and first points of the tournament but pride will be their spur.
"The Ospreys are a very talented side who are just not playing with any great degree of confidence at the moment," said Hadden. "There is precious little between teams in Pool 2 and, at the moment, we are on a roll and they are not.
"Naturally we want to stay on that roll and, although we don't have any major injury worries, with only a five-day turnaround there could be some late calls for us. On top of that we have 16 players with the national squad today (Monday), tomorrow and Wednesday morning so we won't be seeing them until Wednesday afternoon."
Former All Blacks captain Todd Blackadder has played a huge role in the rise and rise of Edinburgh Rugby but a shoulder injury means Hadden has handed the leadership to Brendan Laney.
"Brendan has done a fine job in Todd's absence but we are a different side nowadays with more players putting their hands up and accepting responsibility than a few years ago," said Hadden
"Todd has had his shoulder operation and the hope is that, if we get through to the knock-out stages, he will be fit for selection for the quarter-finals in April."