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Roof closed for Euro showpiece

18th May 2014 11:27

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millenium stadium roof closed

Roof closed: Millenium Stadium

ERC have confirmed the Millenium Stadium roof will be closed for Saturday's Heineken Cup final between Toulon and Saracens.

While the atmosphere surrounding a Heineken Cup final is inevitably a special one, the sheer sense of occasion generated when the Millennium Stadium roof is shut adds an extra dimension for players and supporters alike.

The four showpiece matches staged to date at the 74,500-capacity venue in 2002, 2006, 2008 and 2011 were played under a closed roof and the victories registered by Leicester Tigers, Munster (twice) and Leinster were made all the more memorable by the unique stadium atmosphere, as well as a playing surface unaffected by inclement weather.

Anthony Foley, one of the four men to have lifted the trophy at the Millennium Stadium when he captained Munster to a first tournament success against Biarritz Olympique in 2006, believes the venue is one of the best in world rugby.

"When the roof's closed, nothing leaves the stadium," said Foley.

"Everything stays inside and it's a cauldron. It's simply one of the best venues and that's not because Munster and Ireland have had some great days there. We've had some bad days too, but you still leave with the feeling that it's an incredible venue to play in. You're right in the middle of a happening city and the people love it when Heineken Cup finals are played there."

For Martin Johnson, who led Leicester in 2002, the Millennium has an aura all of its own.

"The atmosphere is extraordinary, I've never played anywhere better," said Johnson.

"You can really hear it and feel it. As a player, it depends on who much you want to let it that atmosphere in. You can be inspired by it or you can blank it, but you can play 100 test matches and only appear in one or two European finals, so it's a massive occasion. And there's nowhere better than the Millennium Stadium."

Leo Cullen, who skippered Leinster to a record three final victories, has fond memories of his side's astonishing second-half comeback against Northampton Saints at the Millennium in 2011.

"That was undoubtedly one of the best days of my career and the Millennium Stadium is the best for atmosphere that I've ever played in," said Cullen.

"It's an incredible place. The crowd are so on top of you and, with the roof closed, you can barely hear the person next to you. I'm very jealous of the two teams in the final this season!"

As Toulon aim to become the third club to retain the trophy after Leicester Tigers (2001 and 2002) and Leinster Rugby (2011 and 2012), and as Saracens target a first European title, what promises to be an enthralling Anglo-French clash in just under a week's time will be preceded by a spectacular opening ceremony.

  • Champions Cup Fixtures
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FixtureDetails
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European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster vs SaracensMunster vs Saracens Preview
Saturday , October 25
Ulster vs Toulon13:00
Scarlets vs Leicester19:45
Bath vs Toulouse15:15
Montpellier vs Glasgow17:15
Northampton vs Ospreys17:15
Sunday , October 26
Clermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks15:15
Castres vs Leinster13:00
Wasps vs Harlequins17:15
Benetton Treviso vs Racing Metro 9217:15
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FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Saturday , October 18
Glasgow 37 - 10 BathGlasgow vs Bath Report
Sale Sharks 26 - 27 MunsterSale Sharks vs Munster Report
Racing Metro 92 20 - 11 NorthamptonRacing Metro 92 vs Northampton Report
Leicester 25 - 18 UlsterLeicester vs Ulster Report
Saracens 30 - 23 Clermont AuvergneSaracens vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Friday , October 17
Harlequins 25 - 9 CastresHarlequins vs Castres Report
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Pool 1
European Rugby Champions Cup Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens15
2Munster14
3Sale Sharks11
4Clermont Auvergne11
Pool 2
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1Leinster14
2Harlequins14
3Wasps11
4Castres10
Pool 3
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PosTeamPPts
1Toulon14
2Leicester Tigers14
3Ulster11
4Scarlets10
Pool 4
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1Glasgow Warriors15
2Toulouse14
3Montpellier11
4Bath10
Pool 5
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PosTeamPPts
1Ospreys15
2Racing Metro Paris14
3Northampton10
4Treviso10