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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
With the incentive of an on-going run in European competition, and the possibility of winning a coveted European title, there is bound to be the customary sharp edge to the final 24 Heineken Cup Pool fixtures.
Munster are currently the only one of the Heineken Cup contenders with four wins and they have established a five-point cushion over the Scarlets at the top of Pool 1. The two-time champions take on Castres at Thomond Park on Saturday, 14 January and will then attempt to secure qualification for the last eight when they clash with last season's defeated finalists, Northampton Saints, at stadium:mk a week later.
In Pool 2, Edinburgh Rugby and Cardiff Blues are both on 13 points and both face away fixtures in Round 5 at Racing Metro 92 and London Irish respectively. Meanwhile, defending champions Leinster - with three wins and a draw - have pulled six points clear of Glasgow Warriors in Pool 3 and they travel to Glasgow for what could be a pivotal Round 5 contest on Sunday, 15 January.
Pool 4 gets underway again with the much anticipated clash of leaders, Ulster Rugby, and Leicester Tigers at Ravenhill on Friday, 13 January, with Clermont travelling to Monza to take on Aironi Rugby the following day. Just two points separate Saracens and Biarritz in Pool 5 and the their meeting at Vicarage Road on Sunday, 15 January is likely to be a titanic contest.
Four-time champions,Toulouse, head Pool 6 by a single point from Harlequins with Gloucester Rugby also very much in contention for a place in the quarter-finals and all will be revealed when the Pool stages reach their crescendo on 20, 21 and 22 January next.
Vital ERC European ranking points are also at stake throughout both the Pool and knock-out stages of the Heineken Cup. A Pool winner is guaranteed four ranking points, and a runner-up three points. Two ranking points are awarded to a club which finishes third in a Pool, and one point to a club finishing fourth.
The ERC European ranking points system rewards and incentivises clubs who consistently perform at the highest level in European competitions. Positions in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup Pool Draw for qualified clubs will be determined by the ranking points system.
(All kick-offs are local time)
FRIDAY, 13 JANUARY
Pool 2 Racing Metro 92 v Edinburgh Rugby 21.00
Pool 4 Ulster Rugby v Leicester Tigers 20.00
Pool 5 Ospreys v Benetton Treviso 20.00
SATURDAY, 14 JANUARY
Pool 1 Scarlets v Northampton Saints 13.30
Pool 3 Montpellier v Bath Rugby 14.00
Pool 4 Aironi Rugby v ASM Clermont Auvergne 14.30 (Stadio Brianteo, Monza)
Pool 1 Munster Rugby v Castres Olympique 15.40
Pool 2 London Irish v Cardiff Blues 15.40
Pool 6 Toulouse v Connacht Rugby 16.40
Pool 6 Harlequins v Gloucester Rugby 18.00
SUNDAY, 15 JANUARY
Pool 3 Glasgow Warriors v Leinster Rugby 12.45
Pool 5 Saracens v Biarritz Olympique 15.00
FRIDAY, 20 JANUARY
Pool 6 Connacht Rugby v Harlequins 20.00
Pool 6 Gloucester Rugby v Toulouse 20.00
SATURDAY, 21 JANUARY
Pool 3 Bath Rugby v Glasgow Warriors 13.30
Pool 3 Leinster Rugby v Montpellier 13.30
Pool 4 Leicester Tigers v Aironi Rugby 15.40
Pool 4 ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster Rugby 16.40
Pool 1 Northampton Saints v Munster Rugby 18.00 (stadium:mk)
Pool 1 Castres Olympique v Scarlets 19.00
SUNDAY, 22 JANUARY
Pool 5 Benetton Treviso v Saracens 14.00
Pool 5 Biarritz Olympique v Ospreys 14.00
Pool 2 Cardiff Blues v Racing Metro 92 15.15
Pool 2 Edinburgh Rugby v London Irish 15.15