Wales international James Hook will get his first taste of the atmosphere at Stade Aime Giral when he makes his bow in the Amlin Challenge Cup in Perpignan's colours this weekend.
Hook almost became an overnight hero at his new club after a debut at Toulouse that included a cross kick that led to a try for Farid Sid, two conversions and a monster drop goal in a 21-17 defeat.
Playing at outside half opposite Toulouse' new recruit Luke McAlister, Hook steered Perpignan into a lead they held as the game moved into the final quarter. In the end, though, the six penalties from McAlister's accurate boot, and another from Lionel Beauxis, overpowered the visitors' two tries.
Perpignan reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup last season before losing to Northampton Saints, but failed to make the top six in the French Championship. That said, they are among the pre-tournament favourites to go all the way in the Amlin Challenge Cup this winter.
They launch their Pool 4 campaign against Exeter Chiefs on Friday night in a game that should give Hook his first taste of the bullring-like atmosphere of the Catalan's home ground. Hook scored 216 points in 31 Heineken Cup outings with former club the Ospreys.
As part of the build-up to next month's Cardiff 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals weekend, ERC has joined forces with the WRU, Cardiff Blues and adidas to develop an annual grassroots community rugby programme targeting young players.
The Ulster Rugby full back, Jared Payne (No 15), has been suspended for two (2) weeks following an independent Disciplinary Hearing in Dublin arising from the Heineken Cup quarter-final match against Saracens at Ravenhill Stadium on Saturday, 5 April.