The 10th anniversary season of the Heineken Cup kicked-off with a real bang last weekend - the 109,424 fans who poured through the turnstiles smashing the Round 1 record by well over 13,000.
And only Round 6 of last season's cut-and-thrust Pool stages attracted a bigger collective crowd when 117,210 turned out with seven of the quarter-final places up for grabs.
Five clubs - Leicester Tigers, Munster, Stade Francais Paris, Perpignan and Bath Rugby - enjoyed five-figure crowds as the 2004 tournament got underway with Bath Rugby also pulling in their tournament record attendance of 10,050. The Recreation Ground was also the scene for the 1,000,000th fan to watch Heineken Cup rugby in England in the Pools and quarter-finals stages. Mr M Palmer was the lucky 43rd spectator through the turnstiles to win a pair of tickets for the 2005 Heineken Cup final in Edinburgh on Sunday, 22 May. On the field John Kelly became the sixth player to join the ERC Elite Awards club for 50 Heineken Cup appearances when he helped Munster to a 15-9 victory over NEC Harlequins at Thomond Park.
And Christian Labit (Toulouse) and Shane Byrne (Leinster) are set to join the exclusive club on their next appearances while ace marksman David Humphreys became the sixth player to crack the 400 points barrier as he accounted for all 21 of Ulster's points in their win over Cardiff Blues.
HOW THE HEINEKEN CUP HAS GROWN AND GROWN…
ROUND 1 ATTENDANCES SEASON BY SEASON
1995 / 1996 20,200 4 matches
1996 / 1996 29,700 8 matches
1997 / 1998 53,682 10 matches
1998 / 1999 33,500 8 matches
1999 / 2000 72,136 12 matches
2000 / 2001 95,966 12 matches
2001 / 2002 81,584 12 matches
2002 / 2003 76,765 12 matches
2003 / 2004 81,825 12 matches
2004 / 2005 109,424 12 matches
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.