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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Tournament organisers ERC were told by ticket agents Ticketmaster that all 5,000 went before a ball was kicked in this season's competition last Friday night.
Last weekend saw the first round of Pool matches completed and the second round takes place this weekend. The Pool stages will be completed in January with four more rounds.
'We expected business to be brisk, and we are delighted that all 5,000 tickets have sold so quickly,' admitted ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath. 'Because of the demand we will be putting another 5,000 on public sale immediately.
'The Heineken Cup final might be five months away, but such is the profile of the tournament, and rugby union as a whole in the northern hemisphere in the wake of England's World Cup triumph, that fans are obviously identifying this event as one they don't want to miss. The last time we held the final at Twickenham we sold 68,441 tickets in the space of three weeks for the game between Northampton Saints and Munster.
'The aim is certainly to fill the home of English rugby this time round and replicate the wonderful occasions and atmospheres we have enjoyed in the past at Lansdowne Road, the Millennium Stadium, Parc des Princes, Stade Lescure and Cardiff Arms Park.'
'The draw for the semi-finals will take place at the end of the Pool stages once the quarter-final line-up is known. ERC have already commenced work on identifying neutral venues for the semi-finals.
'We've just enjoyed a highly successful first weekend of Pool matches with fantastic television coverage and a very high standard of play. We have more than 100 World Cup players available to the coaches of our 24 teams and the quality of rugby that was presented to the large and enthusiastic crowds across Europe was very much in keeping with the standards everyone has come to expect from the Heineken Cup.
'The introduction of bonus points this season had a big impact on the games and there were some notable victories for Edinburgh, over reigning champions Toulouse, newcomers Leeds Tykes, against Neath-Swansea Ospreys and The Dragons over Ulster.
'Round 1 attendance figures showed an increase on last season and this weekend we are expecting there to be 6 stadiums with crowds of over 10,000.'
* Heineken Cup final ticket prices start at Â£20 with top category tickets priced at Â£45. Tickets can be purchased by contacting Ticketmaster on their Heineken Cup Final hotline, 0870 161 1995 (UK number) or by logging on to www.ticketmaster.co.uk
10 December, 2003