Flooding through the turnstiles
April 22, 2010
Leinster silenced the Munster army in 2009 © Getty Images
Wasps are set to record a huge gate for their St. George's day game against Bath at Twickenham this weekend, only a week after Saracens recorded their best attendance at Wembley Stadium with a win over Harlequins. With this in mind we take a look at some of the biggest attendances for club games in our latest Scrum Seven.
82,208 - Leinster 25-6 Munster, Heineken Cup semi-final, Croke Park, Dublin
The world record crowd for a club game was drawn by the enticing prospect of seeing the blue and red quarters of Ireland go head-to-head for a place in the Heineken Cup final at the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Croke Park. The GAA had opened the doors of the stadium to rugby in 2007 during the renovation of Lansdowne Road and duly hosted Ireland's 2009 Grand Slam as well as this classic performance from Leinster.
Gordon D'Arcy, Brian O'Driscoll and Luke Fitzgerald, all of whom would don red for the Lions later in the season, scored tries to exact revenge for defeat at the hands of their fierce rivals in the corresponding fixture in 2006 and lay the platform for a first title against Leicester at Murrayfield.
81,601 - Leicester 10-9 London Irish, Guinness Premiership final, Twickenham, London, 2009
With Leicester out to claim their eighth English title the cheeky chappies at Twickenham installed an extra seat in order to break their record, set a year earlier. The extra seat went to Tigers fan Toby Warren, who watched his side take home top prize against a London Irish outfit making their first final appearance.
Jordan Crane's second-half try proved the crucial score as the Exiles missed several gilt edged opportunities, with all of their points coming from the boots of Peter Hewat and Delon Armitage. This record is likely to stand for some time, although with Saracens ambitiously aiming to pack out Wembley at some time in the future the bragging rights will again belong to administrators of the round ball game.
81,600 - Wasps 26-16 Leicester, Guinness Premiership final, Twickenham, London, 2008
The professional era's two greatest English combatants went head-to-head in this end of season showpiece, with the gate smashing the previous best of 66,000. The Tigers were facing a Wasps side that had produced a trademark late surge, although a pressure-phobic Gloucester had finished top of the table in the regular season before missing out by a point in the semis. The record crowd stood to a man to applaud Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio from the field on the occasion of his final game, and the World Cup-winner celebrated with the trophy at the final whistle.
Tom Rees and Josh Lewsey scored first-half tries as Wasps secured a fourth Premiership title in six seasons, surviving a late fightback inspired by five-pointers from Tom Varndell and Harry Ellis.
81,076 - Leicester 9-25 Wasps, Heineken Cup final, Twickenham, London, 2007
Leicester's 2007 season was close to perfect. Comfortable victories in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and Guinness Premiership finals had paved the way for an unprecedented treble. Wasps had failed to hit the heights of previous seasons but had swept past Northampton, who would be relegated from the Premiership at the end of the season, in the semi-finals to set up an all-English affair that smashed previous records.
On the day, the form book wasn't consulted. Wasps powered home and collected a sixth straight Twickenham final win following two Heineken Cups, three Premiership play-off finals and an Anglo-Welsh Cup success. Eoin Reddan and Raphael Ibanez scored the tries, hours after ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux had announced that French and English clubs had agreed not to boycott the 2008 tournament following a dispute with the tournament organisers.
79,779 - Stade Francais 29-0 Toulouse, Stade de France, March 2008
In recent seasons Stade Francais, backed by the bulging wallet of Max Guazzini, have made the Stade de France a home from home. The colourful French club set the record attendance for a French club game in 2008, when eventual Top 14 champions Toulouse were dispatched 29-0. They have also racked up impressive figures of 79,741 against Toulouse in 2007 and 79,619 against Biarritz in 2006 in Saint Denis.
Guazzini's plans also brought about the amazing spectacle of their Heineken Cup pool clash with Harlequins in 2008. Quins' season ended with the disgrace of 'Bloodgate' but hit the heights in Paris, when following a ridiculously OTT opening ceremony they silenced a record 76,569 crowd for a pool game thanks to tries from Jordan Turner-Hall and Tom Williams.
54,000 - Sharks 19-20 Bulls, Super 14 final, 2007
King's Park's entry in the list of Super 14 finals was a big, big deal. The first all-African final and the first final hosted on African soil drew a bumper crowd and the game did not disappoint. Bulls speedster Bryan Habana cut his way through a tired Sharks defence for an injury-time try that set up the match-winning conversion that was slotted by fly-half Derick Hougaard.
The Sharks, who played host to the final after topping the table during the regular season, dominated proceedings in the first half but were unable to build a commanding lead. They scored tries of their own through Albert van den Berg and JP Pietersen but fell agonisingly short at the death, the clock reading 82 minutes when Habana pounced.
48,000 - Leinster 20-12 Ulster, Magners League, Lansdowne Road, 2006
The Magners League record attendance was recorded on a sad, but special, day for Irish rugby as they bade farewell to Lansdowne Road. The Dublin ground, scene of countless classic games along the years, was packed out by the home support and a travelling contingent of 20,000 Ulster fans.
The men in white were second best on the day as Leinster scored three tries, to Denis Hickie, Owen Finegan and Jamie Heaslip, to keep alive the race at the top of the table. It was a race that Ulster won, securing their first Magners title.