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Leinster hoping for 'sea of blue' as ticket sales rise for Toulouse clash

More than 25,000 had been sold by 5pm yesterday evening on the first day of sales.

Leinster fans at Welford Road last weekend.
Leinster fans at Welford Road last weekend.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

LEINSTER WILL BE hoping their fans can create a similar atmosphere to the one Munster’s supporters produced last weekend when they meet Toulouse in the Champions Cup semi-finals at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

More than 40,000 people were at the Dublin venue last Saturday as the French side squeezed past Munster in a penalty shoot-out to decide an epic quarter-final played in front of a raucous crowd.

Tickets for the Leinster semi-final went on public release yesterday, with the province reporting that 25,000 had been sold by 5pm on Monday evening and they are hoping to have a huge crowd at the Aviva to roar them on.

“It’s huge, the boost it gives you when you see that sea of blue,” said Leinster assistant coach Robin McBryde when asked how important a big crowd is.

“It adds to the occasion, it gives you a bit of that tingly feeling to see how much it means to everybody. It makes you think a little bit less of yourself as well, that you’ve got a bigger role to play, a bigger responsibility on your shoulders, you’ve got to front up for everybody who has turned up to support you.

“It’s really pleasing and it just makes it great for everybody. As a spectator, you want to get something from the experience of coming to watch games. When you get a crowd with a buzz about it, that atmosphere, that’s what makes you feel part of it. I’m really looking forward to Saturday.

“Welford Road, to all the supporters that were there [for last weekend's quarter-final win], a big thanks because they did make a difference.

“Even to the point where… I’m not saying you can influence a referee’s decision but you can definitely know there’s two sides on the pitch and it’s not just one-way traffic. I’m looking forward to seeing a sea of blue.”

a-view-of-a-connacht-flag-amongst-the-leinster-flags-at-the-aviva-stadium Leinster are hoping for a big crowd. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

It promises to be another thrilling battle on the pitch as five-time Champions Cup winners Toulouse take on four-time winners Leinster, with both squads containing a host of Test rugby stars.

The Leinster pack will need to be at its best after what was a mixed performance against Leicester.

James Ryan made two crucial lineout steals, Josh van der Flier scored from a close-range Leinster lineout, and the Leinster forwards were also outstanding in the build-up to Robbie Henshaw’s try.

On the flip side, they conceded five scrum penalties and saw Leicester’s maul generate huge momentum in the second half.

“There’s a lot of things to consider. When you play a home game you’ve got the advantage. They’ve got a pretty small pitch, the crowd are on top of you, they had a flash flood for two and a half hours prior to kick-off,” said McBryde, that last part a tongue-in-cheek reference to how wet the Welford Road pitch was despite a lack of rain before the game.

“Because of the nature and size of the pitch obviously the number of entries they get into your 22 is more than normal. That alongside the fact that we didn’t exit effectively enough to release the pressure gave them too many opportunities really.

“So they gave our defence a good work out and we stood up to it. But we knew that up front it was going to be a battle. Their driving maul is going well, their scrum with the number of penalties they won, which gives them entry into your 22 and they’re good enough to finish off those opportunities.

“First half was really good, the second half not as good, but you know the quality of team that Leicester are going to come back and they’re going to have a little bit of momentum and wind in their sails at some stage. I’m just really glad that we were able to stand up to that in the second half.”

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johnny-sexton-celebrates-a-turnover-with-josh-van-der-flier Leinster face another big test against Toulouse. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Asked about the wet pitch, McBryde opted against going into detail.

“You just get on with it really, don’t you?”

He is certain, though, that Leinster’s pack have an even tougher test ahead this Saturday.

“It’s a step up again. Looking at the Munster game they really went at them at scrum time. [Julien] Marchand, Cyril Baille, they’ve got an appetite for scrumagging and as much as we had Genge and Montoya and Dan Cole [for Leicester], I think there’s a little bit more about this Toulouse pack really.

 “So we’re going to have to step up and improve again. They’ve got a very strong driving maul again so once again we’re going to have to make sure that we deal with that threat and when we get the opportunity, we’ve got to take it.

“We had one opportunity against the Tigers and we were successful with that opportunity with the lineout and converted it [for van der Flier's try].

“So we’ve got to have that ruthless edge about us again and be as clinical as we can when we get the opportunity.”

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Murray Kinsella

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