Munster Might Not Have To Play European Semi-Finals In The Aviva Anymore
A lot was made this year about Leinster playing their Champions Cup semi-final in the Aviva Stadium. Understandably Scarlets fans (and players) weren’t happy, but technically they were well within their rights.
There’s been a lot of confusion in recent years as to what exactly a ‘home semi-final’ in the Champions Cup equates to. While a ‘home quarter-final’ means that you get to play the game in your own stadium – the semi-final process is a little different.
In a ‘home semi-final’ you get to host the game in your country – but it has to be a neutral venue. So even though Leinster hosted a number of Champions Cup and PRO14 games in the Aviva Stadium last season, it’s technically a ‘neutral’ venue as their official ground is listed as the RDS Arena – where they play the majority of their games.
Now back to Munster. The southern province most recently secured a ‘home’ semi-final back in 2017 against eventual winners Saracens. That game took place in the Aviva Stadium because, as mentioned – they couldn’t use their home ground. It also made a lot more sense to go to a stadium that holds 50,000+, even if that rule wasn’t there (the EPCR manages the semi-finals and final so it’s about maximising revenue too).
But what if there was a huge stadium, that was a ‘neutral’ venue – a lot closer to home? Enter Páirc Uí Chaoimh. The recently renovated ground holds over 45,000 and is just down the road in Cork – where Munster base themselves when not in Limerick and play some of their home games (Musgrave Park).
Now before you say anything yes, there is the potential GAA roadblock, but with the Liam Miller Memorial match recently being held there – why can’t a rugby game be held there next?
No doubt Munster would benefit from a Champions Cup semi-final being held in Cork as opposed to Dublin, keeping it within the province.
Should Munster manage to secure a home semi-final in the next couple of years (it’s no easy task by the way), then perhaps this could be a very viable option that supporters would no doubt welcome.