Gloucester Rugby director of rugby Nigel Davies is urging his players not to let the hard work of their Amlin Challenge Cup Pool campaign go to waste when they host holders Biarritz Olympique at Kingsholm in next week's opening European quarter-final.
Davies saw his side grind out a 15-14 win over London Welsh last weekend and has the visit of reigning English champions, and Heineken Cup quarter-final top seeds, Harlequins to deal with on Good Friday before fully turning his attentions to Europe.
"We worked extremely hard to get home advantage in the quarter-finals and we want to make it count. We had about as tough a group as you could ask for in the tournament with London Irish and two teams from the Top 14, so we had to work hard just to qualify, let alone secure a home draw," said Davies.
"It's great to have a home tie against Biarritz, one of the best sides in Europe. We have a lot to play for this season, but the Amlin is important to us and we're looking forward to this.
"Europe brings a different flavour to the season compared to anything else we play in. The competition in the Amlin Challenge Cup is phenomenal this season and the quality of the teams in the quarter-finals speaks for itself.
"It's a great competition in its own right these days. You could easily say that it's no longer a secondary competition because all these teams are capable of winning it."
While Biarritz are the current holders of the trophy, Gloucester have had their moments, too, in the tournament, notably when they beat London Irish 36-34 in extra time at the Twickenham Stoop to win the title in 2006.
Biarritz finished second in their Heineken Cup Pool with 15 points from three wins and were the third and final team from that tournament to qualify for the last eight of the Amlin Challenge Cup. It is the second season they entered the competition at the quarter-final stage, last year beating London Wasps and Brive on their way to overcoming Toulon in the final at the Twickenham Stoop.
"Biarritz are a quality side. They are blowing a little hot and cold this season, as French sides sometimes do, but they are a proud club in Europe and will come here looking to make a big statement given the quality players they have," warned Davies.
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.