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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
To date, 473,595 fans have attended the first five rounds of this season's competition which is up 65,555 (16%) on last season. Average attendances are up over 1,000 per match from 6,801 to the present figure of 7,892.
Numbers have climbed on successive weekends for the first three rounds peaking at a record 106,406 in round three. This broke the 100,000 barrier for the first time surpassing the previous high of 96,007 achieved in round six of the 2001 season.
This record was followed by an impressive total of 99,918 just two weeks later in round five. Last season's best round attendance of 86,051 has already been topped four times and eight of the twenty-four clubs are averaging over 10,000 for their home games.
The record attendance for an individual pool match has also fallen this season. Leinster Lions' final home match at Lansdowne Road against the Cardiff Blues attracted 23,463 beating the previous best of 22,000 set by Toulouse for their round six home match against Bath in 2000.
The line up for this weekend's matches, including such clashes as Toulouse v Edinburgh Rugby, Perpignan v London Wasps, Munster v Bourgoin, Northampton Saints v Llanelli Scarlets and Leicester Tigers v Stade Franà§ais Paris should ensure huge crowds.
Attendance projections suggest that the Round 3 record figure of 106,463 is under threat and should, in fact, be beaten. If this is the case the 2001 cumulative Pool record of 524,624 will be smashed by more than 50,000.
... AND ANOTHER RECORD
Leinster Lions made it a hat-trick of Heineken Cup tournament records when they attracted a bumper crowd of 23,463 to Lansdowne Road for their 20-17 Pool 3 victory over Cardiff Blues last Friday.
They had already claimed the tournament records for attendances at a Heineken Cup quarter-final (42,500 v Biarritz Olympique, Lansdowne Road, 12/04/03) and Heineken Cup semi-final (32,000 v Perpignan, Lansdowne Road, 27/04/03).