Munster expected to request 5,000 tickets

Opponents Clermont likely to receive up to 20,000, and will likely bring even more

Stade de la Mosson.

Stade de la Mosson.

 

The ticket allocation for the semi-final between Clermont Auvergne and Munster in Montpellier’s Stade de la Mosson on Saturday, April 27th, is yet to be finalised, but Munster are expected to request, and receive, 5,000 tickets for the game.

With the rush to book flights and hotels already underway from the full-time whistle in their quarter-final win over Harlequins at the Stoop on Sunday, this allocation is expected to meet demands.

The Munster Branch will sell their allocation as normal through their clubs and the Munster Supporters Club, and any remaining will then be sold to the public.

With home country advantage, Clermont, meanwhile, are likely to receive an allocation of up to 20,000, and it will be no surprise if les jaunards ultimately bring a good deal more.

Stade de la Mosson, home to the Montpellier Ligue 1 football club, has a capacity of 32,900, almost identical to the 32,400 capacity-Stade Chaban Delmas in Bordeaux, the venue for last season’s semi-final when Leinster beat Clermont 19-15.

With Leinster bringing a noisy band of 2,500-3,000, Clermont fans almost entirely ringed the ground, and even with Montpellier a three-hour drive away, they are expected to make the trek in similar numbers once more.

Furthermore, Montpellier is a good deal trickier than Bordeaux to travel to. Normally there are no direct flights, although Ryanair had put on flights from Shannon yesterday, departing the day before the semi-final and returning the day after, for €355. Throw in accommodation and other costs, and realistically, the trip will cost a minimum €750-plus.

Three years ago, for the most recent of Munster’s previous nine semi-finals, against Biarritz in the similarly-sized Stadio Anoeta in San Sebastien, Munster initially asked for 10,000 but ultimately used up in the region of 7,000.

The economic climate is even more depressed now, especially in Limerick.

It could be their numbers will be swelled, as for this season’s treks to Saracens and Halrequins, by ex-pats from Britain and the continent, given their more varied and cheaper routes to Montpellier, and it is also possible ERC will put some tickets on sale through Ticketmaster if all other demands, such as corporate and complimentary tickets, as well as for the two semi-finalists, have been sated.

From from ideal venue
Montpellier is far from an ideal venue, least of all from a Munster perspective, but the Chaban Delmas in Bordeaux and venues such in Toulouse, Marseilles and Lyon, were unavailable.

Nor, alas, is this new territory for Munster or their fans.

In seven of their previous nine semi-finals Munster have had the misfortune to be drawn away, with one of those against Leinster in 2006, which they won in Lansdowne Road, whereas they lost their two “home” semi-finals against Wasps in ’04 and Leinster in ’09 in Croke Park.

Of the other six away semi-finals, one was in England (beating Saracens in ’08 in the Ricoh Arena) and the other five have all been against French teams, beginning with a run of four in succession from 2000 in Bordeaux, when Munster beat Toulouse on the day the Red Army was effectively born.

A year later they lost to Stade Français in Lille, beat Castres in Beziers in ’02 and 12 months later, lost 13-12 to Toulouse in Toulouse, before the defeat to Biarritz three years ago.

In being paired away to Clermont, Munster have arguably drawn their shortest straw yet. Clermont are men on a mission after last year’s semi-final defeat, a point re-enforced in the aftermath of Saturday’s 36-14 dissection of an initially superior Montpellier.

“They were many things that we need to improve on,” admitted captain Aurelien Rougerie afterwards, “in our defence, our lineout and our scrummaging, but I promise you our level of intensity and what we expect from ourselves from now on will be high.

“We were so disappointed last year in Bordeaux and we all have that one goal (winning the H Cup) in mind.”