Heineken Cup Rugby: Munster Top the Final Eight

Peter CollinsContributor IFebruary 16, 2012

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31:  The Heineken trophy and match balls on the turf at the Heineken Cup Launch at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images for ERC)
David Rogers/Getty Images

Munster finished as the No. 1 seed in the knockout stages of this year’s Heineken Cup and will face the No. 8 seed, Ulster, in the quarterfinals of the Heineken Cup in Thomond Park in April.

They saw off the Northampton Saints, last year’s runners-up, in an enthralling encounter in Milton Keynes three weeks ago after Simon Zebo scored his first professional hat-trick, two strong finishes by both Johnny Murphy and Springbok B.J. Botha, and the ever-so-accurate boot of Ronan O'Gara.

Munster also saw off Llanelli Scarlets and the French outfit Castres both home and away during the group stages of the competition.

Fellow Irish team Leinster finished up second, Edinburgh third, Saracens fourth, Clermont fifth, Toulouse sixth, Cardiff seventh and Ulster eighth.

The Munster/Ulster winner will then go on to face the victor of the other quarterfinal pairing between Edinburgh Gunners, the first Scottish club to ever win a group in the competition, and four-time Heineken champions Toulouse.

In the other quarterfinal matchups, Leinster will play the Cardiff Blues at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, and Saracens will face French side Clermont Auvergne at Vicarage Road.

The winner out of these top eight European teams will lift the trophy at Twickenham on Saturday May 19th.