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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
"We're down to the last eight and we will need to go up another level because Cardiff will travel to Dublin in high spirits after their performances over the group stages," admitted Schmidt, whose side are bidding to become only the second team in Heineken Cup history to successfully defend their title.
"We were lucky to get a win in Cardiff City Stadium a few weeks ago and they didn't bring a full strength side when we faced them in the RDS earlier this year, so with a few players to come back into their side they will be formidable opponents.
"But first and foremost we're delighted to be in the quarter-finals and to have achieved a home tie. Given the group we managed to progress out of, it is a fine achievement by the team.
"As events unfolded across Europe over the last few days it was difficult to second guess who we would be playing, but now we know that we're going to be facing the Blues in the Aviva Stadium and we know that we're going to be in for a real battle.
"The Blues were in control of the Pool and you could see their disappointment when they missed out on a home quarter final. They had a huge win away to Racing Metro 92 in the Pool stages and to gain 21 points and not win their Pool is extremely unlucky from their point of view.
"They are a hugely impressive side, are well coached and have a physical set of forwards up front and a lot of skill and pace out wide. They have been well served by a number of All Blacks in their ranks who I would personally know well.
"Given our familiarity in the PRO12, we will know to expect a tough game on Easter weekend. But that's what knockout rugby is all about.
"It is great for our supporters that we will have a chance to play in the Aviva Stadium, a home from home for the province which has served the team well in recent times. Our loyal followers who travel in such large numbers week in, week out are rewarded with a home tie and with the larger stadium this means that we are able to facilitate even more supporters to attend the game."