Munster fans draw short straw with Sunday kick-offs

Ruaidhri O'Connor

MUNSTER have been handed two dreaded Sunday lunchtime kick-off times for their crucial remaining Heineken Cup pool games against Edinburgh and Racing Metro.

The 2006 and 2008 champions will take on Edinburgh at Murrayfield on January 13 at 12.45, before hosting Racing Metro in what looks like being a pool decider a week later at the same time at Thomond Park.

Rob Penney's men have been given a string of different kick-off times this season in both the Pro12 and Heineken Cup and their large fanbase have plenty of reason to complain after the latest decision by the ERC.

Munster face a difficult route to the quarter-finals and much of their fate depends on Racing Metro's clash with Saracens in Nantes on January 12 at 3.40.

Leinster, meanwhile, will bid to do the near impossible with two Saturday 6.0 kick-offs. The European champions' chances of qualifying from Pool 5 are slim and they need bonus-point wins at home to the Scarlets on Saturday, January 12 and away at Exeter Chiefs a week later if they are to have any chance of progressing.

Joe Schmidt's side face an uphill battle after losing their back-to-back games against Clermont-Auvergne.

Ulster, meanwhile, return to their familiar Friday night slot for their home game against Glasgow, before taking on Castres on Saturday, January 19. The northern province sit on top of Pool 4 and will want a bonus-point win over the Scots in order not to need a first win in France a week later.

Connacht have an early kick-off at the Stoop for their Saturday, January 12 meeting with Harlequins, before they face Zebre six days later at the Sportsground. The westerners' chances of making the quarter-finals are gone, but they could still reach the Challenge Cup.

The final round of matches will see the games in each pool kick off at the same time as potentially 12 teams will battle for eight quarter-final spots.