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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
London Irish coach Gary Gold read the riot act to his players after they lost the first leg of their Parker Pen Challenge Cup Round 1 match 30-26 to Montauban - and will be demanding a massive improvement in the second leg contest at the Madejski Stadium on Sunday.
"We have a four-point deficit and I am very unhappy with that," said Gold. "Our execution was poor and we have to refocus and get our act together.
"After that showing Montauban will be confident they can beat us again. We demolished their line-out but simply failed to dominate them in other areas.
"We missed far too many first time tackles and were poor at the breakdown area. By our own standards we let ourselves down - we are a far better team than that.
"But it would be unacceptably arrogant not to respect their achievements in the first leg and accepting that they are capable of doing that again this weekend.
"That said, we should be able to close the deficit. As a group of players the London Irish guys respond extremely well to poor performances and come out firing."
Who the winner over the two legs will meet in Round 2 is also in the balance - Rotherham Titans travel to Narbonne looking to overturn a seven-point deficit - but Montauban are unlikely to be up against Canadian No 8 Phil Murphy in Reading as he struggles to recover from a leg injury.
"London Irish have a great pack and their work in the line-out is second to none - we rarely see that in the French championship," said Montauban coach Frederic Faragou.
"That is an area we will have to work on before Sunday.
"Phil Murphy, whom we know from the French Championship, had a good game last weekend, as did their centre Nick Greenstock.
"We knew what to expect - from the team they put out and their form in the English Premiership - that London Irish were always going to be a big challenge.
"And it worked out well for us because the match enabled us to gel together well as a team and find some form which had been somewhat lacking at the start of the season.
'The objective now is to reaffirm that result with a good performance on the weekend. We are well aware that it will be an altogether different prospect over there and we are expecting a warm welcome from the fans!
"This match will tell us where we are in the scheme of things and we would be delighted to go through to the next stage.
"The Parker Pen Challenge Cup enables us to play freely without the pressures of the French Championship whilst giving the matches everything we've got."We are not going to go to Reading just to try to keep the difference to four points - that would be ridiculous.