The 2008/09 Heineken Cup quarter-finals will be fast upon us, ercrugby.com has compiled some trivia to get you in the mood.
• The 48 Heineken Cup quarter-finals have been watched by 946,443 fans with the 1,000,000 barrier set to be broken. The average attendance for each of the quarter-finals has been 19,718.
• The all-England contest between Leicester Tigers and Bath Rugby will be the 50th tournament quarter-final.
• Harlequins and the Ospreys are both bidding to qualify for the semi-finals for the first time, Quins at their third attempt and the Ospreys at their second.
• Two grounds - the Millennium Stadium and Twickenham Stoop - will be staging Heineken Cup quarter-finals for the first time. However, both venues have staged European finals, the Millennium Stadium three Heineken Cup finals and the Stoop two European Challenge Cup finals.
• Thirty six of the 48 quarter-finals have ended in home wins - with not a single away win in sight in the three successive tournaments between 1998/99 and 2000/01. Munster account for a quarter of those 12 away triumphs.
• Munster are appearing in a record 11th successive quarter-final - one more than triple champions Toulouse who are appearing in their 10th spread over 13 seasons.
• Munster prop John Hayes has appeared in a record 10 quarter-finals - one more than team-mates Peter Stringer, David Wallace and Anthony Foley.
• The 2009 quarter-finalists have a total of 44 previous quarter-final appearances between them. The tally consists of Munster (10), Toulouse (9), Leicester Tigers (8), Cardiff Blues (5 - 4 as Cardiff RFC), Leinster (5), Bath Rugby (4), Harlequins (2) and the Ospreys (1).
• Alan Lewis (Ireland) has refereed a record seven quarter-finals.
• The 2004 / 2005 quarter-finals had the greatest combined attendance of 162,500 - an average of over 40,000 per quarter-final - when the ties were played at Lansdowne Road (Leinster v Leicester Tigers), Estadio Anoeta (Biarritz Olympique v Munster), Parc des Princes (Stade Français Paris v Newcastle Falcons) and Le Stadium in Toulouse (Toulouse v Northampton Saints).
• The two quarter-finals played at Lansdowne Road attracted capacity crowds and a joint tournament quarter-final attendance record of 48,500. The 2005 match was between Leinster and Leicester and the 2006 clash between Munster and Perpignan.
• There were no quarter-finals in the first season of the tournament, the four Pool winners going straight into the semi-finals.
• None of the 48 quarter-finals has required extra time to establish a winner - although two of the 13 finals (1996 and 2005, both won by Toulouse) have needed the extra 20 minutes along with the 1998 semi-final between Toulouse and Brive. Toulouse lost that one on a try count.
• The highest score in a quarter-final was the 71 points scored by Stade Francais Paris when they beat Pontypridd 71-14 at Stade Jean-Bouin in the 1998 / 1999 season. The 57 points difference is also the biggest winning margin.
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.