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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.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 23rd place has now gone to France, the most successful nation in this season's competition from England, France and Italy. Following Italy's failure to have a team qualifying for the knock-out stages, it had been a straight contest between England and France as to which of them would be offered a seventh team in the 11th season of the Heineken Cup. By supplying both finalists following last weekend's semi-finals, France have secured that additional place.
Ireland, Scotland and Wales did not come into the reckoning but were in contention for the 24th spot via the Celtic League. That place will now go to the winners of a play-off between Welsh regional side Cardiff Blues - the highest placed non-Heineken Cup qualifying team from Scotland, Ireland or Wales in the 2004 / 2005 Celtic League - and the losing Italian semi-finalist who finished highest in the 2004 / 2005 Italian Championship.
This game will be played on Sunday, 29 May, at a neutral venue in Italy.