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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
On both occasions that they have walked off winners in the semi-finals, in 1996 and 2003, they went all the way to claim the coveted trophy but in 1997, 1998 and 2000 they fell at the second-last fence.
And now that they have seen to urgent domestic business against Grenoble with a morale boosting 52-24 victory at the weekend, Isitolo Maka believes the all-French semi-final could be a thriller.
"We had to get the match against Grenoble out of the way - our win against them means we are now qualified for the French championship play-offs - but it was difficult not to think about the semi-final," said the former All Black No 8.
"It is great for the French public to have two French teams in the semi-final and it means both sides will have a huge amount of support. It's also good for French rugby to have this kind of representation at the highest level.
"It doesn't really matter who the opposition is. It is a semi-final and to be knocked out here would be devastating, though Biarritz were definitely the better team against Llanelli.
"They have a very strong forward pack and that is also how they like to play against us, they will try to dominate that area of the game. They beat Llanelli up-front and they will want to do the same to us on Saturday.
"But I'm confident in our players and in our strength in depth. We are definitely a team of 22 players and everyone who comes on to the pitch is desperate to give something extra to the game. I don't think we have had to play all out for 80 minutes yet this season - we often have peaks and troughs of intensity and concentration - but we will have to give it everything against Biarritz.
"There is some rivalry between the two teams and there will certainly be some bite to the match. Every game is hard now but Biarritz is our biggest obstacle because it's our next one. If we lose, there's no point thinking about the final."
Fly-half Yann Delaigue, who scored 25 of Toulouse's points against Grenoble, added: "A Heineken Cup semi-final is bound to be special because you don't play many of them in a lifetime.
"It's going to be a huge occasion because the stadium will be full and whoever wins is in the final at Twickenham. Even last week we all had our heads in the semi-final but, if we lose, the adventure stops here so it doesn't matter whether we are playing another French team or anyone else - we have to win.
"This is my last season at Toulouse - I am going to Castres next season - so I would like this season to end in the best possible way. As far as I'm concerned there is a huge desire to win the Heineken Cup again."Biarritz's main strength is the way in which they adapt their game so well to whoever they are playing. Matches against Biarritz are always difficult. There is never one team who consistently beats the other - every season is equal where results are concerned so I think it's 50/50 for Saturday."