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Heineken Cup countdown: Did you know?

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The Heineken Cup comes down to its last four challengers this weekend. Here are some fascinating facts about last-four contests in previous years...

Both the Millennium Stadium and Croke Park are new Heineken Cup semi-final venues, although the Millennium Stadium has staged three finals. Saturday’s semi-final between Munster and Leinster will make Croke Park the 85th venue to host Heineken Cup action.

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 reached the semi-finals a year later.

The 2003/04 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 Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux (Toulouse v Biarritz, 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.

Scottish referee Jim Fleming – now an ERC Board member – controlled a record four Heineken Cup semi-finals. Alan Lewis, Alain Rolland and Chris White have each refereed three.

The only semi-final requiring extra time was the all-French clash between Toulouse and Brive in 1998. Toulouse lost on a 2-1 try count.

The 26 Heineken Cup semi-finals so far have been watched by 675,701 fans – an average attendance of 25,989.

Leicester Tigers boast the joint-highest score in a semi-final. They scored 37 points against Toulouse in 1997, a feat equalled by London Wasps against Munster in 2004.

The biggest semi-final winning margin is 27 points, when Toulouse beat Swansea 30-3 in 1996.

Two clubs have scored five tries in a semi-final, Leicester Tigers against Toulouse in 1997 and Wasps against Munster in 2004.

Only one of the 26 semi-finals has failed to produce a try – the 18-9 win for Biarritz Olympique over Bath Rugby in San Sebastian in 2006.

Cardiff Blues are bidding to become the first team to win every match on their way to the final since the start of home and away Pool matches in 1998/99.

Munster are the No1 ranked team in Europe and will play Leinster, who are ranked fourth. Leicester Tigers are the No2-ranked side and face Cardiff Blues, ranked eighth.