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Lloyd reaches 50 in best possible fashion

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Leon Lloyd joined some elite Leicester Tigers company after making a landmark appearance in the Heineken Cup victory over Munster on Saturday. The 29 year-old collected a commemorative cap from the tournament organisers after making his 50th appearance in the European Cup, a tournament which has witnessed the greatest rugby moments of his professional rugby career.

Lloyd became the fifth player to register 50 Heineken Cup games for Tigers and gain an ERC Elite Award following Graham Rowntree, Martin Johnson, Austin Healey and Martin Corry.

"It was an awesome game, what a way to get to 50," said Lloyd in the aftermath of Saturday's 13-6 win which put Tigers safely into the quarter-finals. "And I have a treasured memento of our win here."

Lloyd admitted that he thought he would have to wait for an opportunity to reach the 50 mark, but then Daryl Gibson was ruled out by injury in the build-up to the game, Ollie Smith moved into the No.12 shirt and created a vacancy on the replacements' bench.

Coventry-born Lloyd, who is in his benefit year at Welford Road, has had a special relationship with the Heineken Cup going back to his earliest days at Tigers.

"I made my debut for the club in the Heineken Cup in 1996 against Leinster at Lansdowne Road. Geordan Murphy, who is the same age as me, missed school that day so he could go to the game!" he recalled. "Then the game away to Pau put me on the map as a player after I scored the winning try which ended their unbeaten home record and got us into the quarter-finals. I scored the winning try in the semi-final against Gloucester at Watford in 2001, and of course the two tries in the final in Paris, so the competition has been very good to me and I have some fantastic memories."