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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
And there are former champions among the Amlin Pool winners as well, Brive lifting the Heineken Cup in 1997 and Harlequins the Amlin silverware in 2001 and 2004.
It all adds up to five of the quarter-finalists looking to add to their European honours board with La Rochelle, Montpellier and Stade Français Paris the French trio out to claim a first title.
And the parade of big name players includes two dozen of those who recently graced the 2011 RBS 6 Nations, Tom Palmer, James Haskell, Nick Easter, Danny Care, Simon Shaw and Joe Worsley resuming club cross-border action as 2011 Championship winners for good measure.
MUNSTER (8): Keith Earls, Ronan O'Gara, Tomas O'Leary, Peter Stringer, Donncha O'Callaghan, Paul O'Connell, Denis Leamy, David Wallace
ASM CLERMONT AUVERGNE (6): Aurelien Rougerie, Gonzalo Canale, Morgan Parra, Thomas Domingo, Julien Pierre, Julien Bonnaire
STADE FRANÇAIS PARIS (4): Tom Palmer, James Haskell, Sergio Parisse, Hugo Southwell
HARLEQUINS (2): Danny Care, Nick Easter
LONDON WASPS (2): Simon Shaw, Joe Worsley
BRIVE (2): Alexis Palisson, Luciano Orquera
With Harlequins and London Wasps clashing at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday night English rugby will be represented in the semi-finals with the winner away to Brive or Munster.
"It is going to be a huge match and a possible avenue to qualify for next season's Heineken Cup," said Wasps and England centre Riki Flutey.
"They have been playing pretty well this season and if they had not got those three cards against Leicester Tigers at the weekend they could easily have won the match.
"We are hurting after our last couple of defeats and there is a short turnaround for us but we have to put that behind us and concentrate on our big and hugely important Amlin Cup Challenge tie.
"That means we have to cut out the penalties and turnovers we gave away against London Irish at the weekend because if you give any team around 15 of those a match you are going to struggle to win. If we can do that we are confident we can beat anyone.
"The big plus for Harlequins is having their England boys back and in Danny Care they have a great No 9 who loves playing off the front foot. In the back row Nick Easter is a fantastic ball carrier with tremendous skills and we will have to try and stop his off-loads and watch both of them carefully."