Donnacha Ryan: Racing united in bid to give Dan Carter historic send-off
Racing 92 have been firmly restored to the top table of French rugby since Jacky Lorenzetti and his deep pockets took control of the Aristocratic Parisian outfit in 2006.
A star-studded squad, that boasts such international quality that All Blacks great Dan Carter has struggled for game time this season, has been compiled while a sixth French title -- and first for 26 years -- was secured in 2016.
That season Racing also reached the Champions Cup final, but having lost to Saracens in Lyon a European trophy is the one thing that still alludes them. Carter spoke this week about creating history by winning the competition before he departs for Japan at the end of the season, and it seems that his teammates are keen to help secure him the ultimate send-off.
Donnacha Ryan knows what it takes to win the European Cup, having been a member of the Munster squad that lifted its previous incarnation in 2008. He admitted it had been "very strange" to play against his former teammates in the pool stages this season but won't let sentimentality distract him at Bordeaux's Stade Chaban-Delmas on Sunday.
"Every player in the club is on a different journey," he said. "We have individuals who are just starting off in their career, and are excited by being involved in the competition and playing top-class teams.
"We've got other guys at the other end of their careers, who've not really got much time left and would love to accomplish a fantastic accolade like being in a European Cup final and creating history as well.
"It's [about] trying to make sure that every player is aligned as well and realises that we have different motivations but we need to work collectively."
Ryan added: "From my point of view emotion is an important thing, and creating history is important as well, but you have to follow the task at hand and there's a job to do. You've got to focus on the tangible stuff."
The task at hand for Ryan and Racing is to make the most of their home country advantage and stop a Munster side that will be determined to set up an all-Ireland final against Leinster -- who beat the Scarlets in Dublin on Saturday -- in Bilbao on May 12.
There should be few surprises for either team in Bordeaux. Paired in Pool 4 of this season's competition, Racing and Munster each won their home game as both matches were settled by seven points or less.
Ryan missed the first of those matches at Thomond Park with an injury that he admits made his transition to life in France difficult but returned to help his new club to an entertaining 34-30 victory at the U Arena in January.
"I really wanted to make a good impression, especially with all of the big names that are in the club here," he added. "I wouldn't consider myself a big name at all.
"You want to prove that Irish players are hard working and can perform at a high level."
Ryan has certainly done that during a career that earned him 47 Ireland caps before he made the move to Paris.
Having made more than 150 appearances in the red of Munster he can be expected to have given his teammates some insight into how Racing's opponents will approach Sunday's semifinal, especially with regards to a lineout he helped develop during his 13 years at the province.
Not that Ryan was ready to admit as much. "I don't think it is an advantage at all," he said. "Lineouts operate as a unit and it's one thing knowing all this knowledge but at the same time you have to work as a collective unit.
"If you overbear individuals with too much information I find, in my opinion, too much information in games like that [means] people get bogged down with the details and don't bring their intensity and emotion to the game."