Munster will have to play their Champions Cup quarter-final ‘home’ clash against Toulouse at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium, due to Thomond Park not being available on the weekend of May 6.
Ed Sheeran will be play a series of concerts at Thomond Park on both the Saturday and Sunday, meaning Munster will have to make the trip to the capital, despite having earned ‘home’ advantage.
Over 70,000 tickets have been sold for the two Sheeran concerts, and it will take weeks for the pitch to be playable again.
Munster’s game against Toulouse will be the biggest in their season, but it means fans will have to make the 120 mile trip to support their team.
The Aviva Stadium is better known for hosting the Irish national team, and larger games for the Dublin-based Leinster side.
Only time will now tell if Munster can use the increased capacity at the stadium to muster up a home advantage against the former European champions.
Munster chief operating officer Philip Quinn said it was not a decision ‘that was made lightly’.
“We have been vocal in our support for securing large-scale concerts for the venue for several years,” said Quinn.
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“It has been nine years since we hosted concerts of this scale and we are fully aware of the huge economic benefit to the local economy, along with the stadium itself, that these concerts bring.
“We understand it’s frustrating for our committed and loyal support base, and we would love nothing more than to be playing in Thomond Park.
“However this decision was made prior to the season commencing, it came at a time when economic factors were central to the decision-making process given the impact of the pandemic.
“We are now working through our plans to make our quarter-final as accessible as possible to all our supporters and will confirm details of these plans in the coming days once EPCR confirm the fixture details for the Aviva.”
Meanwhile, Munster head coach Johann van Graan is relishing the opportunity to go head-to-head against Toulouse in three weeks time.
“They are the current European champions so they will be a massive challenge but I think we’ve got to look forward to it,” said Van Graan.
“We’ve enjoyed the season from a group perspective inside. I know there’s a lot of noise on the outside but inside it’s been a very enjoyable season.
“Everybody’s all in and from a group perspective, from a coaches’ perspective we really enjoyed the day and we set out to enjoy the day. We spoke about knockout rugby, that takes a huge performance and we delivered that.”
Munster beat Exeter to set up the quarter-final tie with five-time winners Toulouse, who kept the defence of their title alive with a dramatic one-point aggregate win over Ulster.
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