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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
LLANELLI SCARLETS v BIARRITZ OLYMPIQUE
I thought the Llanelli Scarlets verves Biarritz Olympique game was intriguing. I expected the Scarlets to come out fighting strongly from the start.
Biarritz showed a huge amount of passion, fire and drive to subdue them in the first 20 minutes, and they eventually came out comfortable winners.
Llanelli did have a spell of pressure midway through the second half, and I thought Biarritz really showed a huge amount of mettle in subduing Llanelli, and then to come to a position of strength at the end. To score two tries in the final minutes underlined their dominance.
Biarritz had the upper hand throughout the match. Their forwards were clearly dominant in the scrums. On the whole Gonzalez did well at the line out and their driving play was outstanding. It would be fair to say that Biarritz won the game, rather than that Llanelli lost it.
TOULOUSE v EDINBURGH
I had always predicted a Toulouse victory, and I felt after watching the game that Toulouse did what was necessary to win the match.
I felt that Toulouse went 10-3 up, had the game in their hands, and, if needed, could have stepped up another gear. They coasted slightly and allowed Edinburgh back into the game. but had enough class to pull away when they really needed to. They have key individuals in key areas that make great decisions for them. Their decision makers were the people who won them the match on the day.
Their defence was extremely strong and was only breached a couple of times. They came forward to defend and defended well. In attack, they showed a huge amount of flair with key personnel such as Christian Labit and Finau Maka controlling the exchanges up front. And you could pick any one of their backs who attacked with a huge amount of flair as man-of-the-match.
Edinburgh performed with a huge amount of gusto but didn't have the match winners Toulouse had. Todd Blackadder worked hard all game, and was right in the thick of the action, but on the whole, I do feel that they didn't deserve to win the game.
Toulouse will enter the semi-finals with a certain amount of trepidation, considering the fact that they are playing Biarritz who they know and who know them quite well. They would much preferred to have played Llanelli who, I don't believe, would have been able to have coped with the flair and the passion Toulouse have in their side.
MUNSTER v STADE FRANCAIS
Stade Francais against Munster was always going to be a passionate affair with the match being played at Thomond Park.
The stadium is second to none, and definitely gives Munster an advantage.
Stade would have had to be at their best to win the match, but even then, Munster would have had to have had an off day for them to lose this one.
Stade are a quality side boasting a number of internationals. On their day they can perform as well as any club side - and possibly any international side - in the world, but they have had problems since the World Cup, and these problems have followed then trough into the quarter-finals. They have great players, but some of these players aren't performing at this moment in time.
It may be Munster's year this year. They still have a long way to go, but to have overcome Stade Francais in the way they did was impressive, and they are worthy of their place in the semi-final.
LONDON WASPS v GLOUCESTER
The London Wasps v Gloucester game was always going to be a hard one for Gloucester to win purely because of the nature of the two sides, and the way they are playing at this moment in time.
While Wasps are on top of their game, Gloucester on the other hand have stuttered and failed to impress of late. They would really have had to have been at their best to win the encounter.
I don't think it was a case of Gloucester under-performing. They played about at well as they have done in recent weeks, but came up against a quality side in Wasps.
Following a defeat of this nature, Gloucester will be going back to Kingsholm licking their wounds. It will not be accecptable to any international standard player to lose by such a big score, and Gloucester are a side ladened with top class players, they will bounce back I am sure of that.
Along with Toulouse, Wasps are my tip for the final, and I felt that Gloucester simply came up against a better and far more accomplished side on the day.