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Munster could play semi in Marseille


IF Munster beat Toulouse on Saturday and Leinster go down in Toulon, the semi-final will be held in the coastal French city of Marsaille.
The Stade Vélodrome in Marseille will become the 105th venue to stage Heineken Cup action if reigning champions Toulon overcome Leinster Rugby in Sunday’s massive Heineken Cup quarter-final, with the winners set to meet either Munster Rugby or Toulouse on the road to the Cardiff 2014 final.
The iconic stadium which staged the 2010 Amlin Challenge Cup final is currently being redeveloped and will have a capacity of 41,000 for what could be the second match of the Heineken Cup semi-final weekend on Sunday, 27 April.
Leinster will be targeting a semi-final in the familiar surrounds of Dublin’s Aviva Stadium on the same date should they come away with a prized win from Stade Félix Mayol.
The first of the 2013/14 tournament semi-finals will take place on Saturday, 26 April in Dublin or London. Ulster Rugby could set up a two-day festival of European club rugby in the Irish capital as a quarter-final win for the 1999 European champions over Saracens will earn them a semi-final at the Aviva Stadium on the Saturday, with the possibility of a dream Leinster v Munster showdown for Irish rugby fans at the Dublin venue the following day.
Should Saracens come away from Ravenhill Stadium with a victory, then they will meet the winners of the ASM Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers quarter-final at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, 26 April.
Details of ticket sales for the two high-profile matches will be available on next week. Tickets will be sold via the competing clubs and will also be on general sale.
This weekend’s European action gets underway today with the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final clash of Sale Sharks and Northampton Saints and both clubs will have the added incentive of playing for a home semi-final on Friday, 25 April in which they will meet either Stade Francais Paris or Harlequins.
The second Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final will take place on Sunday, 27 April when the winners of this weekend’s contest between London Wasps and Gloucester Rugby will take on either Bath Rugby or Brive at home.
The Heineken Cup semi-finals are played at venues designated by ERC which are selected in conjunction with the relevant home Union. Home country advantage in the last four was determined by a draw in January following the conclusion of the tournament pool stage. In the Amlin Challenge Cup, the semi-finals are played at home venues with home advantage also decided by the draw in January.
Heineken Cup semi-finals
(Kick-offs local time)
Saturday, 26 April
Ulster Rugby v winners ASM Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers
Aviva Stadium, Dublin (capacity: 51,000) 3.40
Saracens v winners ASM Clermont Auvergne v Leicester Tigers
Twickenham Stadium (capacity: 82,000) 3.40
Sunday, 27 April
Toulon v winners Munster Rugby v Toulouse
Stade Vélodrome, Marseille (capacity: 41,000) 4.30
Leinster Rugby v winners Munster Rugby v Toulouse
Aviva Stadium, Dublin (capacity: 51,000) 3.30
Final: Saturday, 24 May; Millennium Stadium 5.00
Amlin Challenge Cup semi-finals
(Kick-offs local time)
Friday, 25 April
Sale Sharks or Northampton Saints v Stade Francais Paris or Harlequins
AJ Bell Stadium or Franklin’s Gardens 8.00
Sunday, 27 April
London Wasps or Gloucester Rugby v Bath Rugby or Brive
Adams Park or Kingsholm Stadium 1.00
Final: Friday, 23 May; Cardiff Arms Park 8.00
• If Toulon defeat Leinster, Stade Velodrome will host a Heineken Cup match for the first time.
• The stadium, which is home to Olympique Marseille, staged the 2010 Amlin Challenge Cup final in which Cardiff Blues defeated Toulon 28-21.
• Opened in 1972, Stade Velodrome was a venue for the 1998 FIFA World Cup and the 2007 Rugby World Cup. It is currently being redeveloped for the UEFA Euro 2016 finals.
• If a semi-final is staged at Twickenham Stadium, it will be the third time a last-four match in the tournament has been played at English rugby HQ. The previous occasion was in 2013 when Toulon defeated Saracens 24-12.
• Two semi-finals have been played at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. In 2012, Ulster Rugby defeated Edinburgh Rugby 22-19, and in 2011, Leinster Rugby got the better of Toulouse by 32-23.

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