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15,000 Blues fans ready for Battle of Bordeaux

THE scene is set for the Battle of Bordeaux, with the city now awaiting the arrival of 15,000 Blues fans.

Leinster supporters will descend on the French city by plane, train and automobile ahead of Sunday's crunch Heineken Cup clash with Clermont.

More than 30,000 of the 34,000 tickets available for the Stade Chaban-Delmas have been sold for the game, which is expected to be a sell-out by the end of the week.

But being a true blue fan won't come cheap on this occasion. Limited availability of flights means fans have been forced to get creative to make sure they make it to Bordeaux.

It will cost fans €414.98 for a return flight from Bordeaux on Aer Lingus, while flying with Ryanair will cost €114.50 from Dublin-Bordeaux, but there are no return flights.

If fans opt to fly to Bristol and take a connecting flight to Bordeaux, they could save even more money, with flights costing around €100 return.

Many fans have chosen to fly to Paris and travel the remaining 400-plus miles on a three-hour train journey that costs €78 one-way. Those thinking of taking the ferry can travel from Rosslare to Cherbourg for €99 each way, but it may end up the most costly mode of transport, with petrol prices in France averaging €1.66 per litre.

Clermont Auvergne warmed up for Sunday's game with a clinical 22-9 victory over Montpellier, but they picked up a few injuries, leaving coach Vern Cotter with a back-row crisis.

Cotter was hoping to boost his options ahead of the Heineken semi-final by reintroducing Gerhard Vosloo into the side that played Montpellier.

But the South African back-row man broke down again and has been ruled out for the rest of the season because of an adductor muscle injury.

To make matters worse, Vosloo's replacement, the Portuguese player Julien Bardy, also came off during the match that took Clermont four points clear at the top of the Top 14 on Friday night. Bardy left the field with an elbow injury, but the extent of the damage won't be known the weekend.

"We were expecting a huge physical challenge against Montpellier and we got it," said French international Julien Malzieu. "It was great preparation for the semi-final against Leinster."