7 Jun, 15:39
ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The 12-year-old Estadio Anoeta, the home of Spanish soccer giants Real Sociedad, can cater for a crowd of 32,000, compared to Biarritz's 12,667 capacity at Parc des Sports Aguilera. This will increase the number of tickets available to Munster fans from 3,200 to at least 8,000 tickets and is likely to attract the biggest rugby union crowd ever witnessed in Spain.
Biarritz Olympique plan to create a carnival atmosphere for the European rugby weekend and are inviting Munster fans to view the Leinster v Leicester Tigers and Stade Francais Paris v Newcastle Falcons quarter-finals on big screens in their home ground in Biarritz. Shuttle buses are being organised to transport fans from Biarritz to and from San Sebastian.
Derek McGrath, ERC Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted the game will be played at Estadio Anoeta in San Sebastian and commend Biarritz Olympique on the move. Where possible, we encourage teams to play Heineken Cup quarter-finals in larger grounds and the first weekend in April should see over 120,000 fans attend the four games."
"This decision follows similar moves by Stade Francais Paris and Toulouse to move to larger stadia and together with the expected full house in Lansdowne Road, demonstrates the massive growth of the tournament."
Commenting on the move Marcel Martin, President, Biarritz Olympique Pays Basque said: "The decision to move from our home ground was a difficult one, as anyone involved in rugby will understand. However, as we considered the satisfaction of supporters as one of our primary objectives, we hope we will be rewarded as a huge crowd behaving in the best rugby tradition."
Jose Luis Astiazaran, President, Real Sociedad added: "We are delighted to have a rugby game of such importance in San Sebastian and all the personnel at Real Sociedad will use our Champions League experience to ensure that we will have a fantastic and memorable occasion."
This will be the first Heineken Cup match played in Spain, which will become the eighth country to host a fixture in Europe's top club tournament. Spain will join England, Ireland, Italy, France, Romania, Scotland and Wales in having staged Heineken Cup matches.
Tickets for the game will be available from the two clubs and information on how to get to the ground and buy tickets will be available on the official ERC website, ercrugby.com.
HEINEKEN CUP QUARTER-FINALS
(All kick-offs LOCAL time)
FRIDAY, 1 APRIL
20.30 Toulouse v Northampton Saints - Le Stadium, Toulouse (37,000) - Sport+ / Sky Sports
SATURDAY, 2 APRIL
16.00 Stade Français Paris v Newcastle Falcons - Parc des Princes, Paris (40,000) - FR2 / Sky Sports
17.15 Leinster v Leicester Tigers - Lansdowne Road, Dublin (48,000) - RTE / Sky Sports
SUNDAY, 3 APRIL
16.00 Biarritz Olympique v Munster - Estadio Anoeta, San Sebastian (32,000) - Sport+ / Sky Sports / RTE