If any of the younger players at the Scarlets want to know how tough it can be to play in France then they need only to turn to veteran prop Iestyn Thomas to get a rare insight.
The former Wales loose head joined the ERC Elite 50 cap club this season during his side's Heineken Cup campaign after 11 years in the competition. His side's current European campaign came up short in the Heineken Cup, but Thomas will be heading back to France this weekend to help his side tackle Toulon in the quarter-finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup.
It is a fixture that will take the 33-year-old back to where his European adventures first began and offer him another chance to reach the major final appearance he still craves.
But where actually did it all begin for the Pontypool College product? The record books say his first game in Europe was for Ebbw Vale in the Heineken Cup in 1998, but the player himself provided a different story as he looked back on his career at Parc y Scarlets this week.
"It all seems so long ago, but I think I made my European debut for Ebbw Vale in Agen. The only problem with that was I shouldn't have been playing," revealed Thomas.
"I had joined Ebbw Vale from Pontypool, but there was a dispute between the two clubs. My case went to arbitration at the WRU and I was only allowed to train with Ebbw Vale.
"I travelled to Agen with the team and our prop, Mike Wilson, had to pull out with an injury. So, I was called into the team and played as Mike Wilson."
Agen won that sixth round Challenge Cup match 51-12 on their way to the semi-finals. They scored eight tries and Cedric Heymans, who is still playing for Toulouse, landed four conversions.
Thomas packed down in the Ebbw Vale front row with Leyton Phillips and Duncan Bell, the England international who is still playing at Bath, and the two props are the only survivors at the professional end of the game.
By the time the 1997/98 European campaign started, Ebbw Vale had qualified for the Heineken Cup and Thomas was properly registered. His Heineken Cup debut also came in France, against the mighty Toulouse, in what was to prove his worst 80 minutes on a rugby pitch.
"We knew Toulouse were one of the giants of the European club game and I think we were a bit in awe of them. It was difficult going from Ebbw Vale to play against such a massive club with so many big name players," admitted Thomas.
"They simply ran rings around us. Every time I lifted my head from a scrum they had scored another try.
"We did OK at the scrum, but Emile Ntamack ran riot and it really was embarrassing. Probably the worst moment in my rugby career."
By the end of the game Toulouse had racked up a tournament record 108 points, 16 tries and 14 conversions. Four players got hat-tricks - Michel Marfaing, who scored four, Ntamack, Pierre Bondouy and Philippe Lapoutge - and the por visitors were shell-shocked.
It didn't get any better for Thomas and his team over the course of that Heineken Cup Pool campaign. Ebbw Vale conceded 296 points as they lost their first five games and then had to look forward to the return leg at Eugene Cross Park with Toulouse.
"It was all about pride for us as individuals and as a team in that return game against Toulouse. We were determined not to be humiliated again," said Thomas, who came off the replacements bench in the 19-11 victory.
"There is a world of difference between the Toulouse ground and Eugene Cross Park and I'm sure it was a place they didn't want to come to play. We fronted up, never took a backward step and surprised them.
"If the first game had been one of my worst rugby experiences, that victory still ranks among the best."
But it was another game against Toulouse, this time for the Scarlets', that is the pick of the crop for Thomas from his European days. It was the 41-34 win by the Scarlets in Toulouse in 2006/07.
A week after winning 20-19 at home, Thomas and his side recovered from being 31-10 down to win by five tries to four in epic fashion. The ghosts of his first visit to the 'Pink City' were well and truly exorcised.
Now it is Toulon who lay in wait for the Welsh front row warrior. The young Scarlets side will have to take the home side's unbeaten ground record if they are to progress into the Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals.
Thomas has played at Stade Felix Mayol before in Europe, enjoying a 21-19 win over the home side with Ebbw Vale in the 1999/2000 Challenge Cup. The return game was even better, with Ebbw Vale running out 56-26 victors.
Quite a double at the time over a Toulon side captained by the same Pierre Mignoni who is expected to be at scrum half against the Scarlets this weekend. There were 17 penalties in the two Ebbw Vale triumphs that year, but the modern day Toulon are a far better disciplined side these days.
But Thomas, perhaps more than anyone, knows that anything is possible against French opposition and won't rule out anything as he plays his 71st game in Europe . . . or should that be his 72nd!
FOUR GAMES IN THE EURO RUGBY CAREER OF IESTYN THOMAS
11 October, 1997, Stade Armandie
European Challenge Cup - Pool 1, Round 6
Agen 51 Ebbw Vale 12
Agen: V Thomas; L Loubere, J Cistacq, C Heymans, S Gayri; S Prosper, G Sudre; E Rodriguez, M Dal Maso, P Piacentini, N El Mekkaoui, P Fonti, H Lefevre, X Pujos, P Benetton
Scorers: Tries: C Porcu 2, L Loubere 2, M Dal Maso, V Thomas, N El Mekkaoui, S Prosper; Cons: C Heymans 4; DG: S Prosper
Ebbw Vale: J Taumalolo; L Woodard, J Funnell, J Hawker, B Taylor; G Williams, G Bisp; M Wilson (or Iestyn Thomas), L Phillips, D Bell, C Billen, K Faletau, B Watkins, P Pook, M Jones [capt]
Scorers: Tries: L Phillips, L Woodard; Con: L Woodard
Referee: Ed Morrison (England)
19 September, 1998 - Les Sept Deniers
Heineken Cup - Pool C, Round 1
Toulouse 108 Ebbw Vale 16
HT: 47-11 Attendance: 8,000
Toulouse: S Ougier, E Ntamack, P Bondouy, C Desbrosse, P Lapoutge, C Deylaud, J Cazalbou, M Mafutuna, Y Bru, J Jordana, N Spanghero, F Belot, D Lacroix, M Lievremont, F Pelous
Scorers: Tries: M Marfaing 4, E Ntamack 3, P Bondouy 3, P Lapoutge 3, M Lievremont, J Cazalbou, S Ougier; Cons: C Deylaud 11, Y Delaigue 3
Ebbw Vale: J Strange, D Manley, G Williams, J Funnell, A Harries, B Hayward, R Jones, I Thomas, L Phillips, A Metcalfe, C Billen, K Faletau, M Spiller, K Jones [capt], M Jones
Scorers: Try - J Funnell, M Jones; Pens: B Hayward 2
Referee: David McHugh (Ireland)
7 November, 1998, Eugene Cross Park
Heineken Cup - Pool C, Round 6
Ebbw Vale 19 Toulouse 11
HT: 9-5 Attendance: 2,000
Ebbw Vale: J Taumalolo; D Manley, J Hawker, G Williams, L Olsen; J Strange, D Llewellyn; A Phillips, R Campbell, A Metcalfe, L Banks, K Faletau, G Green, R Collins [capt], N Budgett
Scorers: Try: Penalty Try; Con: J Strange; Pens: J Strange 4
Toulouse: S Ougier [capt]; X Garbajosa, R Paillat, P Bondouy, M Marfaing; C Deylaud, J Tilloles; C Vanchiri, M Mafutuna, F Tournaire, F Pelous, N Spanghero, M Lievremont, D Lacroix, S Dispagne
Scorers: Try: P Bondouy; Pens: C Deylaud 2
Referee: Eddie Murray (Scotland)
16 December, 2006 - Stade Ernest Wallon
Heineken Cup - Pool 5, Round 4
Toulouse 34 Llanelli Scarlets 41
HT: 24-10 Attendance: 16,880
Toulouse: C Poitrenaud (M Medard 71); V Clerc, M Kunavore, F Fritz, C Heymans; G du Toit, V Courrent (J Elissalde 74); D Human, Y Bru [capt] (V Lacombe 65), J Poux, F Pelous (R Millo-Chluski 39), P Albacete, J Bouilhou (T Brennan 74), T Dusautoir, G Lamboley (Y Nyanga 58)
Scorers: Tries: C Poitrenaud 4; Cons: V Courrent 4; Pen: V Courrent; DG: G du Toit
Scarlets: B Davies; D James, R King, G Evans, D Daniel (G Evans 75); S Jones, D Peel [capt]; I Thomas, M Rees, C Dunlea (D Manu 32), A Jones (I Afeaki 41), S MacLeod, D Jones, G Thomas, A Popham (N Thomas 72)
Scorers: Tries: D Daniel 2, N Thomas, D James, B Davies; Cons: S Jones 5; Pens: S Jones 2
Referee: Chris White (England)
The directors of ERC voted unanimously at a Board meeting to postpone all decisions including the release of further instalments of ERC's distributable central revenues to the six shareholder countries until 19 February next when the Board will meet again to reconsider the issue.