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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
"Lansdowne Road will always have a unique atmosphere compared to most international grounds.
It's a huge stadium that creates a huge atmosphere, its special for many reasons.
First and foremost the crowd are very, very close to the players on the field - it's similar to Thomond Park in Limerick in that respect.
Nowadays, most new stadia used for rugby either have a running track around them, or the stands are well back from the pitch. The close proximity of the crowd to the players at Lansdowne Road gives the home-team a certain advantage.
It was something we were always conscious of when we were wearing the green. When you're actually running back after kicking a penalty or a drop goal, the sound of the crowd resonates around all four stands.
It is like having wave after wave of sound coming at you. That is where I think there is still something very quaint and special about the old-style stadium.
I remember the day I arrived at Lansdowne Road for the first time. We were playing against Scotland in 1978 and I was full of nerves, as anyone is before their first international.
We got changed in the old Lansdowne Pavilion, which is at the Havelock Square end of the ground. In the car park behind the pavilion, there was a big open area where the band were practising. I will always remember the eerie sound of the bagpipes. For some reason it's a sound I have always associated with Lansdowne Road - it was a particularly scary sound because I knew what was ahead!
The biggest problem with Lansdowne Road is the unpredictability of the wind. Because of the way the east and west stands are built up, and because there is nothing at either the Lansdowne Road or Havelock Square ends, the wind tends to come in around the back and causes real problems.
Next time Lansdowne Road is on television, watch the flags. Look at the flags at the Lansdowne Road end - they will always be blowing away from the Dart gates - then if you look at the other side of the pitch, they are always blowing toward the Havelock Square end of the ground. It's almost as if the flags are being blown in a circular motion around the pitch.
It is a very hard wind to read, even for the home side. It's highly unpredictable and no different today than it ever was.