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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Wasps' defence grabs its share of headlines for its cynicism, like Bath and Leicester before them. The best teams tend to be the best cheats.
It's up to referees to sort that problem out. It should in no way deflect from Wasps' performance that tingled with sheer passion and will. Lawrence Dallaglio may not be everyone's cup of tea as a tactician but as a leader of men he is something else.
Rob Howley made an early bid to remind the Lions selectors that he is still up for test rugby. Hell, this was easily of Test match quality, atmosphere, the lot... a great weekend of rugby!
It had been decent enough in the Parker Pen too. Bath played as if they didn't need the tournament (they do not in terms of European qualification, but in terms of confidence they seem to be slipping) while Connacht and Harlequins served up an exciting starter on Sunday that was in doubt until the final whistle.
A bad Sunday for Ireland but the losing teams can both take a share of glory away. Some say that is no consolation but I am not so sure. Winning is the most important thing in sport but, it is not everything.
I am not a religious man but I sensed soul this weekend. A good one for a rugby fan, even those from the losing teams.
Now, to this week's questions...
Aren't the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup meant to be played at a neutral venue? If so could you tell why Lansdowne Road was selected as the neutral venue? This seemed extremely unfair on Wasps considering the ticket allocation was not even split down the middle between the two sets of supporters. Everybody knows how strong Munster are at Thomond Park, Lansdowne Road is just as inspiring for the Munster men considering the amount of Irish supporters who were there. To call this game neutral was absolutely farsical!
James Curtis, Portsmouth
STAURT SAYS: Strictly speaking, neutral is the wrong word. The organisers meant that neither semi finalist would have home field advantage but they wanted to guarantee a full house and atmosphere at this lofty stage of the tournament. All criteria were fulfilled in Bordeaux but Wasps had to overcome what was, essentially an away match on Sunday. Farcical is the wrong word because the ERC have a cup competition on their hands where 'fairness' often plays second fiddle to Lady Luck. As long as the venue is entirely random in its draw, I am not so sure o the system, guaranteeing national interest in both matches, is not the best one. It helped deliver on Sunday for sure and elevated Wasps' win from a good one to the greatest in their history.
STOOPING TO CONQUER?
As a season ticket down at the Stoop we are all praying for a European Shield Final and a wild card place. However my question is about next season, with the loss of three quality players (messers Bell, Sanderson and Burke) and the club's commitment to improving the Stoop. Should Mark Evans concentrate on being a Chief Executive and hired a real top line coach (i.e. Nick Mallet) and if so could you see a situation of the Club taking a risk and relying on the players it already has and not making any major signings this summer; and therefore could they be in danger of relegation next season?
Mark Richardson, Snodland, Kent
STUART SAYS: Mark Evans is a pretty shrewd coach and with a solvent business in place the chances of the Quins getting the balance between boardroom and pitch wrong are not great. Evans plays a long-term game and while it tries the patience of Quins fans, it is likely to deliver a champion team eventually and will then remain near the peak for years to come.