Cardiff Blues are appearing in their first semi-final as a region - although Cardiff RFC contested the first Heineken Cup final back in January, 1996, and also played in the 1996/97 semi-finals.
Cardiff Blues have never beaten Leicester Tigers in the Heineken Cup. They lost twice to them in the Pool stages of 2006/07, including the home game at the Millennium Stadium
Both Croke Park and the Millennium Stadium are new Heineken Cup semi-final
venues. However, while the Millennium Stadium has staged three Heineken Cup
finals, this will be the first tournament match at Croke Park - making it the 85th venue to host Heineken Cup action
The 2003 / 2004 semi-finals had the greatest combined attendance of 82,500 when the ties were played at Lansdowne Road (Munster v London Wasps, 48,500) and at Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux (Toulouse v Biarritz Olympique, 34,000).
That Munster v London Wasps attendance is the tournament record for a
semi-final but both Croke Park (82,300) and the Millennium Stadium (74,500) have greater capacities.
Former Scottish referee Jim Fleming - now an ERC Board member - controlled a record four Heineken Cup semi-finals. Alan Lewis, Alain Rolland (both Ireland) and Chris White (England) have each refereed three tournament semi-finals.
The only semi-final requiring extra time was the 1998 all-French clash
between Toulouse and Brive. Toulouse lost that one on a 2-1 try count.
The 26 Heineken Cup semi-finals have been watched by 675,701 fans - an
average attendance of 25,989.
The highest score in a semi-final has been the 37 points scored by Leicester Tigers against Toulouse in 1997 and the 37 points scored by London Wasps against Munster in 2004.
The biggest winning margin has been 27 points, when Toulouse beat Swansea 30-3 in 1996.
Two clubs have scored five tries in a semi-final, Leicester Tigers against
Toulouse (1997) and Wasps against Munster (2004).
Only one of the 26 semi-finals has failed to produce a try - Biarritz Olympique's 18-9 win over Bath Rugby in San Sebastian in 2006.
Munster's John Hayes, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer and David Wallace are aiming to reach their fifth Heineken Cup final.
Another Irishman, Leicester Tigers full back Geordan Murphy, is hoping to reach his fourth final. Martin Corry, Ben Kay and Lewis Moody (an unused replacement in the victory over Munster in the 2001 final, are also hoping to do the same.
Cardiff Blues are bidding to become the first team to win every match on their way to the final since the advent of home and away Pool matches in 1998 / 99.
Leicester Tigers wing Scott Hamilton is hoping to emulate Rod Kafer by winning the a Super Rugby and Heineken Cup medal in consecutive years. Kafer was a Super 12 winner with ACT Brumbies in 2001 and then a Heineken Cup champion with Leicester Tigers in 2002. Hamilton won the Super 14 crown last May with Canterbury Crusaders - his third title after a Super 12 victory in 2005 and a Super 14 triumph in 2006.
In that 2006 Super 14 final Hamilton went head-to-head with Cardiff Blues skipper Paul Tito. In heavy fog it was the Crusaders who beat the Wellington Hurricanes, leaving Tito to wait until the Blues' EDF Energy Cup final win over Gloucester to win his first title.
The only Super 12/14 and Heineken Cup winners to date have been Kafer and Doug Howlett (Super 12 with Blues 2005 and Heineken Cup with Munster 2008).
Munster, Leinster, Leicester Tigers and Cardiff Blues (including Cardiff RFC) have been represented by:
113 players have represented Munster in 100 games
128 players have represented Leinster in 87 games
140 players have represented Cardiff Blues in 82 games
120 players have represented Leicester Tigers in 89 games
Leicester Tigers centre Aaron Mauger is also chasing a south/north double. He was a Super 12 and 14 winner with the Crusaders in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006.
Munster are the No1 ranked team in Europe and will play Leinster ranked fourth Leicester Tigers are the No 2 ranked side and face Cardiff Blues ranked eighth
The public allocation of tickets for the Edinburgh 09 Heineken Cup sold-out in January. The two finalists club will share an allocation 15,000 which they will distribute to the fans directly.
Supporters who have purchased tickets and are travelling to the European Rugby Challenge Cup clash with London Irish at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) are advised that some seating has now been changed for this fixture.
Supporters are advised that we will selling tickets right up until kick-off for the big home European Rugby Challenge Cup clash with London Irish - so don't miss all the action this Saturday at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
Blues Rugby Camps will be back this February to given children right across our region the opportunity to participate in rugby during the holidays - and you can book NOW to avoid any disappointment and get the ideal Christmas gift for the aspiring young rugby player in your life!