This evening’s scheduled Challenge Cup meeting with Bayonne has been called off, but January 15 remains a significant date in Leicester Tigers’ European history.
Looking through the text that would have been used in an On This Day page in the matchday programme this weekend reveals four previous big European games on this date.
The first was in 2000, when interest in the Heineken Cup ended with home defeat by Leinster despite tries from Nnamdi Ezulike and Leon Lloyd whose most famous moment in the competition was, of course, still just over a year into the future.
But the most fondly remembered January 15 clash was in 2006 when Tigers faced Stade Francais – rivals in the 2001 Final – on home soil and a capacity crowd of 16,815 witnessed a thrilling finale to one of the stadium’s great European afternoons.
Stade looked like heading home with the spoils as they led with the game entering its last 10 minutes before late tries from Louis Deacon and Dan Hipkiss lifted the volume and sealed a 29-22 victory to keep Tigers top of the Heineken Cup pool.
A year earlier, Tigers had scored 10 tries in a 62-10 victory over Calvisano in Italy but had to wait until the flight home before learning that the result was enough to book a place in the quarter-finals. A combination of other results – including, finally, Perpignan losing to Edinburgh – presented safe passage to the last eight where Tigers earned a memorable win over Leinster at Lansdowne Road in Dublin.
Scorers in that win in Italy were Geordan Murphy (3), Alesana Tuilagi (2), George Chuter (2), Harry Ellis, Andy Goode and Julian White.
The most recent meeting on this date was exactly 10 years ago when Steve Mafi scored his first try for the club in a 31-18 win over the Scarlets in Llanelli which kept the team in the hunt for a place in the knockout stages. Alesana Tuilagi and Ben Youngs were also on the scoresheet.
An event to celebrate the greatest Heineken Cup memory of all – the win over Stade Francais in the 2001 Final in Paris – is planned for later this year in the company of the players who lifted the trophy. Click here to find out more and book your place.