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Possible Heineken Cup semi-final venues for Irish provinces confirmed

The Aviva Stadium could be a host venue for the final four of the competition.

EPCR HAS CONFIRMED the venues for the Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals on the weekend on 20 and 21 April, with Dublin’s Aviva Stadium among the possibilities.

The format for the semi-finals recognises the pool performances of the clubs, meaning the Irish provinces could face difficult away ties if they reach the final four of the competition.

Possible Heineken Champions Cup semi-finals – 20/21 April

Semi-final 1: if Saracens v Edinburgh Rugby – Ricoh Arena (Coventry)
Semi-final 1: if Saracens v Munster Rugby – Ricoh Arena (Coventry)
Semi-final 1: if Edinburgh Rugby v Glasgow Warriors – BT Murrayfield (Edinburgh)
Semi-final 1: if Munster Rugby v Glasgow Warriors – Aviva Stadium (Dublin)

Semi-final 2: if Racing 92 v Leinster Rugby – Paris La Défense Arena 
Semi-final 2: if Racing 92 v Ulster Rugby – Paris La Défense Arena
Semi-final 2: if Leinster Rugby v Toulouse – Aviva Stadium (Dublin)
Semi-final 2: if Ulster Rugby v Toulouse – Aviva Stadium (Dublin)

pjimage Munster and Leinster could host games at the Aviva. Source: Inpho

If top seeds Saracens beat Glasgow Warriors in their quarter-final at the end of this month and Munster overcome Edinburgh in Glasgow, then Johann van Graan’s men will travel to take on Saracens at Coventry’s 32,609-capacity Ricoh Arena in the semi-finals.

If Leinster beat Ulster in the quarter-finals and Racing 92 overcome Toulouse, then Leo Cullen’s side will take on Racing at the French club’s home stadium, the 32,000-seater Paris La Défense Arena, in the semi-finals.

If Ulster pull off an upset against Leinster in Dublin this month, they would also travel to Paris to face Racing in the semi-finals – again, if the Parisians beat Toulouse.

The fact that Racing could host a semi-final in their home stadium is a change to the previous status quo in the Champions Cup, whereby the home side only had home country advantage but could not use their own stadium.

“As a number of clubs now own or control premium venues which befit the status of a Heineken Champions Cup semi-final, EPCR will also consider the possibility of staging a semi-final at a home stadium of a qualified club,” said an EPCR statement last month.

There is the possibility that the Irish provinces could get home draws for the semi-finals, of course, all of which would take place at the Aviva Stadium.

If Munster beat Edinburgh and Glasgow shock Saracens, then the southern province would welcome Glasgow to the Aviva in April.

If Leinster beat Ulster and Toulouse overcome Racing in the quarter-finals, then Leinster would host Toulouse at the Aviva in the semi-finals.

If Ulster were to beat Leinster and Toulouse win against Racing, then it would be Ulster hosting Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium.

The Heineken Cup quarter-finals take place in three weekends’ time, on 30 and 31 March.

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Murray Kinsella

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