Leinster have secured the future of their coaching ticket for another two seasons after reaching agreement with Leo Cullen, Stuart Lancaster, John Fogarty and Girvan Dempsey to stay until 2019.
The quartet's contracts were all up for renewal at the end of this season, with the three former Blues stars having signed on for two years in 2015 and Lancaster having joined as 'Senior Coach' at the start of this season when Kurt McQuilkin returned to New Zealand.
It is not clear whether their titles will remain the same, but it is expected that an announcement on the new deal is imminent. The news will come as a boost for Blues fans as preparations for Saturday's European Champions Cup clash against Wasps as the Aviva Stadium continue. Lancaster has been hailed as a key influence in turning their fortunes around since coming on board this season.
Yesterday, they learned that their prize for victory over the English Premiership leaders is either a trip to Nice to face Toulon or to Lyon to take on Clermont Auvergne.
The Aviva Stadium could host Munster if they progress against Toulouse on Saturday and Saracens beat Glasgow Warriors, but Murrayfield will be the venue if the Scots cause a shock.
Munster won’t benefit financially from the gate receipts if the game is held in Dublin, but the IRFU will receive some income as tournament organisers EPCR rent the stadium from its parent company which is jointly owned with the FAI.
The semi-finals will take place on April 22 and 23 , but it is not yet known which game will take place on which day. French broadcasters are known to favour Sunday kick-offs, meaning Leinster could be handed that slot if they progress with Munster being scheduled on a Saturday but it remains to be seen if that would be agreed.
Meanwhile, Wasps are sweating on the fitness of England back-row James Haskell for Saturday’s clash.
Springbok full-back Willie le Roux and Samoan centre Alapati Leiua are going through Return to Play protocols after suffering concussion in last weekend’s Premiership clash.
“James has got a dead leg and he’s picked up a bit of a back spasm, but apart from that he’s alright. He’s pretty confident that he’ll be OK.”
Toulouse will travel to Thomond Park without injured France pair Yann David and Christopher Tolofua but Sebastien Bezy, Francois Cros, Yacouba Camara and Scotland second-row Richie Gray are available.
Champions Cup semi-final venues
SF1: if Clermont Auvergne v Leinster – Lyon; or if Toulon v Leinster – Nice; or if Wasps v Clermont Auvergne – Northampton; or Wasps v Toulon - Northampton;
SF2: if Munster v Saracens – Aviva Stadium; or if Toulouse v Saracens, Bordeaux; or if Glasgow Warriors v Munster – Murrayfield; or if Glasgow Warriors v Toulouse – Murrayfield;