17 Apr 14
Wayne Barnes (Eng) will referee Munster's Heineken Cup semi-final against Toulon at the Stade Velodrome on Sunday April 27th.
Of course those who believe in the 'tea-leaves' will take comfort from the fact on both occasions when Saracens were in the way, Munster reached the final, but this is a serious outfit under Mark McCall who topped a Pool last season that included Biarritz Olympique, Ospreys and Benetton Treviso.
Rob Penney will doubtless be delighted that Peter Stringer will have some insider information to divulge following his stint with Sarries while new Backs Coach Simon Mannix must know all there is to know about Munster's Parisian opponents.
Saracens and Edinburgh are familiar enough but Racing Metro are a relatively unknown quantity given that they've only been involved in the competition for the past two seasons. In their inaugural season they had Saracens in their Pool beating them in Vicarage Road while Clermont was the other scalp they claimed with a 16-9 victory at Stade Yves du Manoir.
Last term they ended bottom of Pool 2 that included Edinburgh (pool winners) , Cardiff Blues and London Irish and finished in 6th spot in the top 14.
In an ultra competitive Pool 1 it's unlikely there'll be a best runner-up emerging. That honour might however fall to Leinster's Pool 5 where they and Clermont might do the needful.
Elsewhere, Pool 2 (Toulouse, Leicester Tigers, Ospreys, Benetton Treviso) definitely looks the winner in the Pool of Death category and unlikely there'll be a 'best runner-up' there either. Ulster should be happy enough after drawing Northampton Saints, Glasgow Warriors and Castres in Pool 4 while Connacht's Pool 3 (Biarritz, Harlequins and Italian newcomers Zebre) could provide a second quarter finalist and loads a dosh Toulon could be the surprise packet in Pool 6.