Cheika slapped with hefty fine

FORMER Leinster coach Michael Cheika has been fined €20,000, half of it suspended until June 2013, for his conduct on the night of the Amlin Challenge final when his Stade Francais side was defeated by Harlequins.

The Australian pleaded guilty to two complaints at an independent Disciplinary Committee hearing in Dublin yesterday, one referring to comments made to officials at half-time and a second centred on remarks made to an ERC employee after the final whistle.

“In reaching its decision, the independent Disciplinary Committee had at the forefront of its mind one of the core values of, that of respect, which match officials and others involved in the game are entitled to be shown at all times,” said committee chairman Simon Thomas.

Both parties have the right to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Leinster have confirmed that they will use the Aviva Stadium to host just one of their three Heineken Cup pool games next season.

Fixtures for four of the six rounds were released by the ERC yesterday revealed that the champions have opted to bring their fourth-round game against Bath on Saturday, December 17 to the redeveloped Lansdowne Road venue.

But the branch has resisted the temptation to transfer further high-profile ties to the bigger arena after the success of last year’s ventures there. As a result Glasgow and Montpellier will be hosted at the RDS in rounds two and six.

“You have to be careful with how you use the Aviva,” said a team spokesman yesterday.

“You don’t want to open it up and not have a decent crowd for it and you don’t know how the pool will look for the last round of games.

“The Munster match and the biggest home game in the Heineken Cup pool stages will be played in the Aviva. After that, any games there will be determined by whether we get to the knockout stages and if we have home advantage, like last season.”

Leinster won each of their four fixtures at the Aviva during the 2010-11 campaign, beating Munster 13-9 in the Magners League as well as Clermont Auvergne, Leicester Tigers and Toulouse in European competition.

Joe Schmidt’s side will open their campaign on November 12 against Montpellier at Stade de la Mosson, the 32,900 capacity stadium where the town’s Ligue 1 football club normally plies its trade. It will be the first Heineken fixture for last year’s Top 14 runners-up.

Munster are also in action that Saturday when Thomond Park hosts the Northampton Saints side which came off second-best to Leinster in that memorable European final at the Millennium Stadium in May. The 2006 and 2008 champions have also been pencilled in to welcome Scarlets to Limerick for a 12.45pm kick-off on Sunday, December 18. Hardly ideal but Thomond stadium director John Cantwell is just happy to have avoided any Friday fixtures.

The province has played a number of Friday night Magners League games in the city in recent years but has always stated a preference for Saturday and Sunday ties when dealing with the ERC due to traffic congestion issues.

“We’re delighted with the way the fixtures have been set,” Cantwell confirmed.

“We’ve a large support base travelling from all over Munster and we made a few requests to avoid Friday games when the stadium reopened initially.”

The first round of European fixtures has been pushed back this coming season as a result of the World Cup in New Zealand but will, nonetheless, take place just three weeks after the final of the global competition.

Ulster’s first fixture sees French side Clermont Auvergne making the trip to Ravenhill on the Saturday while Connacht, in their maiden Heineken campaign, will be the first Irish province into action. They travel to The Stoop to play Harlequins on the Friday night.

Heineken Cup (Irish schedule)

Round One: Friday, November 11: Pool 6: Harlequins v Connacht Saturday, November 12: Pool 1: Munster v Northampton Saints; Pool 3: Montpellier v Leinster (Stade de la Mosson); Pool 4: Ulster v ASM Clermont Auvergne.

Round Two: Saturday, November 19: Pool 1: Castres Olympique v Munster; Pool 4: Leicester Tigers v Ulster; Pool 6: Connacht v Toulouse; Sunday, November 20: Pool 3 Leinster v Glasgow Warriors.

Round Three: Friday, December 9: Pool 4: Ulster v Aironi; Saturday, December 10: Pool 1: Scarlets v Munster; Pool 6: Connacht v Gloucester; Sunday, December 11: Pool 3: Bath v Leinster.

Round Four: Saturday, December 17: Pool 3: Leinster v Bath (Aviva Stadium); Pool 4: Aironi v Ulster; Pool 6: Gloucester v Connacht; Sunday, December 18: Pool 1: Munster v Scarlets.

Round Five: January 13/14/15, 2012: Pool 1: Munster v Castres Olympique; Pool 3: Glasgow Warriors v Leinster; Pool 4: Ulster v Leicester Tigers; Pool 6: Harlequins v Gloucester.

Rounds Six: January 20/21/22, 2012: Pool 1: Northampton Saints v Munster; Pool 3: Leinster v Montpellier; Pool 4: ASM Clermont Auvergne v Ulster; Pool 6 Connacht v Harlequins.

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