Twickenham could produce magnificent seven
April 22, 2008
London Irish could find support coming from some unlikely sources when they clash with Toulouse at Twickenham in the first of the weekend's Heineken Cup semi-finals.
Because while Bob Casey's team will be bidding to reach their first Heineken Cup final, they can also help the collective English cause if they win by earning a coveted seventh place for English teams - and that could prompt support from fans of the other Guinness Premiership clubs more used to hoping to get one over the Exiles.
Both England and France are guaranteed six automatic places in the tournament each season but an additional spot in Europe's premier club tournament is awarded to either England, France or Italy, depending on which country's club representatives progress further in the previous season's tournament.
A win for London Irish would mean that English clubs have progressed further than the French clubs this season, while a win for Toulouse will secure the seventh spot for France immediately only if Munster defeat Saracens in the second semi-final.
London Irish have sold out their full allocation of 11,000 tickets for what is their first Heineken Cup semi-final against treble champions Toulouse while Toulouse expect to bring in the region of 1,000 fans to what will be their eighth Heineken Cup semi-final.
Advance tickets sales for the semi-final are currently running at around 22,000 out of the 33,000 available in the lower tier of the stadium. The remaining tickets are now available from Ticketmaster.co.uk
Some one hundred miles up the road at Coventry, with around 2,500 tickets remaining, the match is close to being a 32,000 sell-out. This will be the second Heineken Cup semi-final played at the Ricoh Arena and the third Heineken Cup match, with current sales already surpassing last season's all England semi-final between between London Wasps and Northampton Saints (16,186) and this season's Round 1 Pool 5 Match between London Wasps and Munster (22,000).
In the region of 2,500 tickets were returned to ERC by Munster, who sold 12,000 tickets to their fans, while Saracens supporters have snapped up 8,000 directly from their club with thousands more sourced by both sets of fans from Ticketmaster. All remaining tickets are now on general sale through ticketmaster.co.uk and from the ticket office at the Ricoh Arena.
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt won the tactical battle and set his team on course for a shot at the Grand Slam. Tom Hamilton reports from Dublin