Saturday 16 December 2017

Munster set for Saturday showdown

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus Photo: Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Munster are set for a Saturday showdown with defending champions Saracens at the Aviva Stadium, while Leinster will travel to Lyon for their Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont Auvergne.

Exact dates and times are due to be confirmed by the EPCR today but the Irish Independent understands that Munster will play on April 22 with Leinster in France the following day on April 23.

Munster are back in the last four for the first time in three years, while the last time they played in a European semi-final in Dublin (2009), they were beaten by Leinster in Croke Park.

After Munster disposed of Toulouse, Rassie Erasmus admitted that his preference was to play the semi-final in Ireland and he got his wish after Saracens were far too good for Glasgow yesterday.

"In my last game at the Aviva I was sitting in the coaches' box and it was sound-proof," the director of rugby said.

"But I would rather play anywhere in Ireland than going away. I'm not sure what the vibe would be like. I can't talk out of experience, but better (to play) in Ireland than in any place else."

The task that lies ahead for Leinster is equally as tough but Leo Cullen doesn't believe that his young players will be fazed by facing Clermont who are chasing their first European title.

Leinster will play at Matmut Stadium Gerland in Lyon which has a capacity of almost 42,000. A large travelling crowd is expected to make the trip from Ireland.

Leinster have already played in France twice this season when they lost to Montpellier and drew Castres in the pool stages.

"It's always daunting going to France so we need to understand the challenge they will pose," Cullen maintained.

"Hopefully we'll get a good chunk of that 50,000 (who were at the Aviva) who might make the trip so we won't be outdone."

Champions Cup semi-finals - Probable dates: Munster v Saracens, Aviva Stadium, April 22, Clermont Auvergne v Leinster, Matmut Stadium Gerland, April 23.

Irish Independent

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