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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.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 Falcons director of rugby, Rob Andrew, is hoping that Wilkinson's shoulder/neck problems will be over in time for him to return for a festive hat-trick of home games - Northampton Saints and NEC Harlequins in the Zurich Premiership followed by Montferrand in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup on Sunday, 11 January.
"We are waiting for the results of Jonny's next check-up to see when he is ready to return. We need to see how he is feeling," said Falcons coach Andrew Blades.
"Ideally, we will have a fully fit Jonny available for selection as soon as possible, but these three games, culminating in the clash with Montferrand, will be a fantastic test for all our squad.
"The Parker Pen Challenge Cup is a massive competition for our club. It is all about exposing the club as a whole, and our young squad in particular, to more and more important and challenging fixtures.
"The last round, against the Spanish side VRAC, was very enjoyable, but our second round matches against Montferrand will be a much harder challenge. They have some great players in their side and it is games like this that makes the competition.
"Newcastle have a good record against French opposition in this tournament and trips to France are among the highlights of any season."
Former Wallaby prop Blades will also get the chance to meet up with his old Australian and ACT Brumbies team mate Pat Howard over the two legs. Howard, a Heineken Cup winner with Leicester Tigers, is now one of the stars of a Montferrand back line that also contains Tony Marsh, Aurelien Rougerie, Gerald Merceron, David Bory and Sebastien Viars.
The Falcons have won 12 of their 16 games against French opposition in the Parker Pen Challenge Cup and have never slipped up at home. On the road they have recorded victories at Perpignan, Narbonne, Bordeaux and Grenoble.
The clash between Newcastle Falcons and Montferrand will be one of four Anglo-French matches in the second round. London Irish host Narbonne, also on Sunday, 11 January, in the other First Leg match to be played on English soil, while NEC Harlequins will travel to Lucky Losers Montauban on Saturday, 10 January, and Bath go to Colomiers the following day.
Connacht and Pau will kick-off the Second Round, First Leg matches when they meet at the Galway Sportsground at 2.00pm on Saturday, 10 January.
The draw for the First Round of the Parker Pen Shield sees the introduction to the tournament of four teams who didn't take part in the opening round of the Parker Pen Challenge Cup - Spanish sides UC Madrid, UE Santboiana and Portuguese representatives Clube Rugby Lisboa and RC Coimbra.
Rotherham Titans are the only team from the Home Unions taking part in the Parker Pen Shield. The rest of the sides are from France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. The Titans are drawn against the Italian side GRAN Rugby.