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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.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 Heineken Cup Final will break new ground in 2005 when it celebrates its 10th anniversary by being played in the Scottish capital, Edinburgh.
The home of Scottish rugby, the 67,800 international stadium at Murrayfield, will be the venue for the game next May when the cream of northern hemisphere rugby battle it out for the most prestigious club rugby title in the world game.
Murrayfield will become the fourth Six Nations Test arena to host a Heineken Cup Final and Scotland will become the fifth country to stage the game. Cardiff Arms Park and the Millennium Stadium have hosted the final three times, Lansdowne Road and Twickenham have each staged it twice and Stade Lescure, Bordeaux, and Parc des Princes, Paris, have been the other venues.
The Scottish Rugby Union won the race to host the 10th anniversary final after successfully bidding to take the game to Scotland for the 1st time. ERC, who organise the Heineken Cup, were impressed with their submission.
"The Heineken Cup Final is developing into one of European sport's leading annual events and demands to be played on the biggest and best rugby stages," said ERC chairman Jean-Pierre Lux.
"The Scottish bid for the 2005 Heineken Cup Final, led by the new Scottish Rugby Union Chief Executive Phil Anderton, was very thorough and ambitious and benefits from the combined efforts and expertise of a number of major agencies in the Scottish capital."
ERC chief executive Derek McGrath added: "We've got 'EventScotland' - VisitScotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, in conjunction with Scottish Rugby - in our corner fighting to make this landmark occasion an extra special event.
"Their view, which is shared by ERC, is that the Heineken Cup Final should be billed as more than just a game of rugby - it is a major sporting, cultural and social event. We are delighted at ERC that the city of Edinburgh, and the whole of Scottish rugby, is planning to turn the 10th Heineken Cup Final into a very special occasion."
Phil Anderton said: "Today's announcement is a great boost for Scottish Rugby, the professional game in Scotland and the city of Edinburgh. We are delighted Scottish Rugby has secured the Heineken Cup final against some very stiff competition from other European countries.
"One of the main reasons ERC has decided to bring the Heineken Cup Final to Murrayfield is the partnership between ourselves, EventScotland, VisitScotland and the City of Edinburgh Council, which means that we have an opportunity not just to promote rugby and the Heineken Cup but a chance to promote the city of Edinburgh and Scotland on the European stage.
"An independent economic impact study concluded that a Six Nations match staged at Murrayfield is worth some Â£20 million to the Scottish economy of which Â£10 million is spent in the Edinburgh area.
"We will be pursuing actively a capacity 67,800 attendance for the Heineken Cup Final and given that many more supporters could travel to Edinburgh than would be the case for a Six Nations match where there are limited numbers of tickets for away supporters then we believe the economic impact for both Edinburgh and Scotland could be greater.
"We are also pledged to continue our positive dialogue with Lothian and Borders Police, the local licensing authority and the Scottish Executive which has seen us receive the go ahead to serve alcohol at non-international games at Murrayfield Stadium as we believe that responsible drinking can add to supporters' enjoyment of the Murrayfield experience."
David Williams, chief executive of EventScotland, the organisation set up to attract world class events to Scotland said: "EventScotland joined forces with Scottish Rugby and met with ERC in Dublin a few months ago to discuss the Heineken Cup Final coming to Scotland for the first time.
"It's great to see the outcome of those discussions come to fruition in such a short period of time. EventScotland enjoys a strong working relationship with Scottish Rugby and I would like to congratulate them as well as the other partner agencies who have committed resources to make this happen. This is another opportunity for Scotland to demonstrate its ability to stage major international events. We look forward to continuing working with ERC, Scottish Rugby and partners, to ensure that the final is a great success."
Scotland, and Edinburgh, are well used to hosting major sporting events. The first rugby international was staged in Edinburgh at Raeburn Place on 27 March, 1871, although it wasn't until the 1920's that the SRU finally purchased their current, long-standing home of Murrayfield. The ground was built on 19 acres of land which belonged to the Edinburgh Polo Club. Having purchased the land in 1922, the stadium was ready for use in 1925 and was opened on 27 March 1925.
There were 70,000 fans crammed into the ground to see Scotland take on England and the home side came out on top 14-11 to clinch their first Grand Slam. Eighty years on, could we see another piece of Scottish sporting history made with either Edinburgh or Glasgow winning the Heineken Cup?
Murrayfield's huge terracing allowed the ground to enter the record books in 1975 when 104,000 fans saw Scotland beat Wales 12-10. Then the SRU decided that games should be all-ticket affairs and the capacity was set at 70,000.
The re-development of the old Murrayfield into the current world-class arena began in December 1981 when the SRU decided to build a new stand in place of the East Terracing. That was the starting point for an ambitious, three-phase plan that ended in 1994 with the Scottish capital being the proud owners of one of Europe's finest sporting stadia.
Rugby World Cup matches were held at Murrayfield in both 1991 and 1999 and Phil Anderton and his commercial team won great praise for their promotion of this season's Celtic Cup final between Ulster and Edinburgh which saw them attract a crowd of almost 20,000 people with only two weeks build up.
21st May, 2004