Rugby Union: Ulster expect sell-out for Toulouse Cup tie

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ULSTER OFFICIALS are expecting their first sell-out crowd for 12 years to watch Friday week's European Cup quarter-final against Toulouse in Belfast. Ravenhill's 12,000 capacity should be reached by close of business tonight, according to the Ulster chief executive, Michael Reid.

"The last time we had a sell-out was for the All Blacks' visit 12 years ago," he said. "We've been getting great crowds at Ravenhill for our European Cup matches staged on a Friday night, and the atmosphere when Toulouse were there in the pool stage was superb."

Toulouse currently have a more pressing engagement to worry about - their appearance before a European Rugby Cup disciplinary panel in Dublin next Monday.

The tournament director, Roger Pickering, has requested that sanctions be taken against the Toulouse French international prop, Franck Tournaire, for alleged threatening behaviour towards a touch judge after the defeat at Ebbw Vale on 7 November.

Other unnamed Toulouse players and members of the official club party are also in the dock for their part in alleged related incidents.

The panel will consist of the ERC chairman, Tom Kiernan, Charlie Bisset (Scottish Rugby Union) and Terry Burwell (Rugby Football Union).

Toulouse have since apologised to Ebbw Vale, who won the match 19-11, via a telephone call from their chief executive, Jean-Luc Bromont, on behalf of the club president, Rene Bouscatel.

"Through their chief executive we were offered a very profuse apology on behalf of their president," said the Ebbw Vale chief executive, Ray Harris. "They also added that they were sorry their behaviour after the game had detracted from our victory."

Tournaire could receive a ban, which would probably rule him out of the Ulster quarter-final, with financial penalties likely to be imposed on Toulouse. Pontypridd, Brive, Llanelli and Pau all received five-figure fines last season following on-pitch violence which marred the competition, which was eventually won by Bath.

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