18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Twickenham Stadium hosted the world's biggest club fixture in 2000 and 2004, with English sides carrying off the silverware on both occasions. Northampton Saints pipped Munster 9-8 in the fifth final on 27 May, 2000 and London Wasps took the title from Toulouse, 27-20, on 23 May, 2004.
The 2000 final was played in front of a then record Heineken Cup crowd of 68,441 and the current record of 74,600, from the 2002 final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium between Leicester Tigers and Munster, could be beaten next year at the newly completed, 82,000 seater London venue.
Twickenham Stadium has also held Heineken Cup pool action when 33,883 attended the 2004/05 NEC Harlequins match against Munster.
ERC and the RFU have confirmed that tickets for the London '07 Heineken Cup final at the Twickenham Stadium went on sale today, Tuesday 25 April, from Ticketmaster (0870 9020000 or http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/section) and fans are encouraged to purchase early to avoid disappointment.
Tickets are available from £25 and for the first time ever a cashback ticket scheme will be available for the Heineken Cup final at Twickenham. The early bird scheme, which is open to all clubs within the RFU and all clubs participating in the tournament, offers 20% cash back to clubs. The scheme works by clubs selling adult and junior tickets for the final at face value and receiving 20% back of the ticket price from the RFU to fund club initiatives. The scheme will be launched in September 2006 when players are back for the new season and runs until Christmas. Paul Vaughan, Business Operations Director of the RFU, comments, "It is an excellent way for clubs to generate income from a premium product. The supporter doesn't pay any extra for their cup final ticket, but knows that by buying tickets from their club they are helping support the club financially."
"We are delighted to be going back to Twickenham for the 2007 Heineken Cup final. We have already staged two hugely successful finals at the ground and it will be exciting for all the clubs in the tournament to be aiming to play at the recently refurbished venue," said ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.
Following on from the successful model adopted for Cardiff, ERC will be working in partnership with the RFU to create another Heineken Cup final festival weekend for the London '07 final and we look forward to another grand finale to northern hemisphere's domestic season"
"Having sold-out for our 11th final at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium this year, we are aiming to fill the 82,000 seats at the new Twickenham and set a new record for the tournament."
Paul Vaughan, added, "It is a privilege for the RFU to host the most prestigious club fixture in the world. It promises to be an amazing day at the home of England Rugby and a great celebration of the end of the season. Rugby fans of all nationalities will be able to enjoy watching Europe's two finest clubs in a world class stadium with world class facilities. Given the success of recent Heineken Cup finals we suggest fans buy their tickets early to avoid disappointment."
The 12th Heineken Cup will kick-off next season on the weekend of 20 / 21 / 22 October 2006
English teams have won both previous Heineken Cup finals at the ground. Northampton Saints beat Munster 9-8 in the 2000 final and London Wasps triumphed 27-20 in the 2003 final against Toulouse
The redevelopment of the South Stand at Twickenham means the ground will have a capacity of 82,000 for the final - over 7,000 more than the current tournament record attendance for a final set when Leicester Tigers beat Munster at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2002.
The Twickenham final in 2000 saw 68,441 fans go through the turnstiles with 73,057 attending the thrilling 2004 final.
The 10 Heineken Cup finals have been staged at seven grounds - Cardiff Arms Park (1996 and 1997), Stade Lescure (1998), Lansdowne Road (1999 and 2003), Twickenham (2000 and 2004), Parc des Princes (2001), Millennium Stadium (2002) and Murrayfield (2005).
The 12th Heineken Cup final at Twickenham in 13 months time will be the 819th match played in the tournament.
England will have six clubs battling to win a place in the prestigious cup final on home soil while Biarritz Olympique secured an additional seventh place for France as a result of their semi-final win over Bath Rugby last Saturday.
ROUND 1: 20 / 21 / 22 October, 2006
ROUND 2: 27 / 28 / 29 October, 2006
ROUND 3: 8 / 9 / 10 December, 2006
ROUND 4: 15 / 16 / 17 December, 2006
ROUND 5: 12 / 13 / 14 January, 2007
ROUND 6: 19 / 20 / 21 January, 2007
QUARTER-FINALS: 30 / 31 March / 1 April, 2007
SEMI-FINALS: 20 / 21 / 22 April, 2007
HEINEKEN CUP AND EUROPEAN CHALLENGE CUP FINALS: 18 / 19 / 20 May, 2007
Heineken Cup 2006 / 2007 Qualification
France - 7 (Top 14 ranking) *
England - 6 (Guinness Premiership ranking / Powergen Cup Winner London Wasps / European Challenge Cup winner).
Ireland - 3 (Celtic League ranking).
Wales - 3 (Celtic League ranking).
Scotland - 2 (Celtic League ranking).
Italy - 2 (Super 10 ranking).
*The 23rd place, which is allocated to the most successful nation between England, France and Italy in the previous season's tournament will go to France as Biarritz Olympique have reached the final against Irish side Munster.
Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Italy will be in contention for the 24th spot via the Celtic League and Super 10. That final Heineken Cup place will go to the winners of a play-off between the highest placed non-Heineken Cup qualifying team from Ireland, Scotland or Wales in the 2005 / 2006 Celtic League and the losing Italian semi-finalist which finished highest in the 2005 / 2006 Super 10.