Following yet another fascinating and action packed weekend of European rugby, the ties for the quarter final and semi finals have been decided. Despite having secured their place in the next round last week, defending champions Leinster had to wait till the very last play on Sunday evening as the Heineken Cup group stages came to a close. Ulster, Edinburgh and Cardiff were all possible opponents for Leinster throughout the weekend but eventually following the Blues’ home win over Racing Metro and Edinburgh’s impressive victory over London Irish on Sunday it will be the Welsh side to travel to Dublin on Easter weekend to take on Joe Schmidt’s men.
Speaking after the draw, the Leinster coach praised his side but is aware of the challenge which Cardiff will possess with the likes of Sam Warburton in their ranks.
“First and foremost we’re delighted to be in the Quarter Finals of the Heineken Cup and to achieve a home tie, given the group we managed to progress out of, is a fine achievement by the team. As events unfolded across Europe over the last few days it was difficult to second guess who we would be playing, but now we know that we’re going to be facing Cardiff Blues in the Aviva Stadium and we know that we’re going to be in for a real battle.
“We’re down to the last eight and we will need to go up another level because Cardiff will travel to Dublin in high spirits after their performances over the group stages. We were lucky to get a win in Cardiff City Stadium a few weeks ago and they didn’t bring a full strength side when we faced them in the RDS earlier this year, so with a few players to come back into their side they will be formidable opponents.
“Cardiff were in control of the Pool and though missed out on a home quarter final, you could see their disappointment. They had a huge win away to Racing-Metro 92 in the Pool stages and to gain 21 points and not win their Pool is extremely unlucky from their point of view.
“Cardiff are a hugely impressive side; well coached with a physical set of forwards up front and a lot of skill and pace out wide and they have been well served by a number of All Blacks in their ranks who I would personally know well. Given our familiarity in the PRO12, we will know to expect a tough game on Easter weekend, but that’s what knockout rugby is all about.
“It is great for our supporters that we will have a chance to play in the Aviva Stadium; a home from home for the province which has served the team well in recent times. Our loyal followers who travel in such large numbers week in, week out are rewarded with a home tie and with the larger stadium this means that we are able to facilitate even more supporters to attend the game.
“If we do manage to win this game that means that we’ll maybe travel to either Wembley Stadium or St. Etienne and to be honest if we do get to that stage then we’ll be delighted. But we’re not looking any further past the Quarter Final.”
Leinster Rugby have confirmed that season ticket holders will be notified this week about ticket information for the quarter final clash