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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The beauty of rugby in general, but this competition in particular, is that so often results can go against the head and we were treated to what you'd have to class as two big shocks in the quarter finals. Both London clubs, Saracens and London Irish, overturned seemingly stronger opposition on the day and progressed to this weekend's semi finals, both team's first appearance at this stage.
So often rugby is a game where if you do your homework, get the basics right and execute well in key areas, you can overcome supposedly superior opposition, and you would have to say that both Brian Smith's Irish side, and Alan Gaffney's Saracens team did just that.
Unfancied as they were against the Perpignan powerhouse and the seemingly supercharged Ospreys, both teams refused to go quietly into the history of Heineken Cup 2007/8 and relished the challenge provided by their opposition. Make no mistake, it was a magnificent effort by both sides and it will require another Herculean effort again this weekend as they come up against the perennial achievers in this competition, Munster and Toulouse.