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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Having officiated in both of the opening two rounds of the 10th anniversary tournament, France's Joel Jutge not only overtook Joel Dume (25 Heineken Cup appearances) as his country's leading official in the competition, but also went to within one appearance of the top two.
The 38-year-old Jutge, who controlled the 2002 Heineken Cup final between Leicester Tigers and Munster at the Millennium Stadium, is scheduled to take charge of the Pool 5 fixture between Newcastle Falcons and Edinburgh Rugby in Round 3 on Sunday, 5 December, and then the Pool 3 showdown between Llanelli Scarlets and Glasgow Rugby on Sunday, 12 December in Round 4.
But while those two fixtures will take him to a record breaking 28 Heineken Cup appearances, he will be pipped to the post by Ireland's Allan Lewis, who took his tally of matches to 26 in Round 1 when he controlled the Pool 1 game between the reigning champions London Wasps and Biarritz Olympique.
Lewis missed Round 2, but is scheduled to make his record equalling 27th appearance at Franklin's Gardens in Round 3 on Saturday, 4 December, when Northampton Saints host Toulouse in Pool 3, and then a record 28th at the Arms Park in Round 4 when Cardiff Blues host Gloucester in Pool 6 on Saturday, 11 December.
That means he will hold the record on his own for one day before Jutge joins him at Stradey Park.
* For an in-depth interview with Joel Jutge, click here
LEADING REFEREES IN THE HEINEKEN CUP 1995-2004
(Up to and including Round 2, 2004/2005 season)
27 Dave McHugh (Ireland), Chris White (England)
26 Joel Jutge (France), Alan Lewis (Ireland)
25 Joel Dume (France)
21 Iain Ramage (Scotland)
20 Nigel Williams (Wales)
19 Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)
18 Didier Mene (France), Tony Spreadbury (England)
17 Rob Dickson (Scotland), Jim Fleming (Scotland), Steve Lander (England)