Red Army face challenging Welsh trip

LLANELLI Scarlets and Munster will launch this season’s Heineken Cup quarter-final schedule with a Friday night showdown at Stradey Park, a fixture sure to challenge the resourcefulness of Munster’s loyal fans.

Though tournament organisers ERC also announced the dates and kick-off times of the other games — which involve English heavyweights Wasps and Leicester playing on different days — attention will be focused on the reigning European champions’ visit to Stradey Park on Friday, March 30 at 7.30pm.

Travel agent Pat Dawson of Dawson Travel outlined the challenges Munster fans are likely to face: “It’s not a great arrangement because of two problems. The main difficulty is the fact that there’ll be only 2,700 tickets available, but the other problem is that Friday is a bad time for a game.

“That means you won’t get out there until half-eleven or noon, and while we have aircraft available we’ll probably have to do an in-and-out trip on the day.

“Using Cardiff airport is another issue, because the facilities there are poor enough — Cardiff can only take one wide-bodied aircraft at a time, which makes it hard from an operational point of view, getting people in and out.”

Dawson expects the Friday night scheduling to deter many Munster fans from making a full weekend trip, despite the discomforts of a day trip,

“Day trips are hard on supporters, they’re going all day and back that night, they’d need to be fit as a fiddle themselves.

“This isn’t as attractive a trip as others with the small stadium, but there are other considerations as well. Even though the game is obviously the most important part of the trip, people want to enjoy themselves as well when they’re away. For instance, people enjoyed the trip to Geneva for the Bourgoin game a couple of weeks ago because it was a new city for most of them.”

Wasps host Leinster the day after the Munster game (ko 5.45pm), while a Sunday double-header sees Northampton’s away tie against Biarritz in San Sebastian (1pm Irish time), followed by Leicester entertaining Stade Francais at 3.30pm.

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