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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
'WELCOME to the most exciting and positive development in club rugby in the Northern Hemisphere.
I believe the inauguration of the European Rugby Cup by Five Nations Rugby will satisfy the needs and aspirations of clubs throughout Europe.
'It will present a fresh challenge to players and coaches, and one which they have been craving for some time, and it should also provide tens of thousands of fans with the spectacle of rugby at its best.'
Those were the words chosen by Ken Reid, the inaugural Tournament Director, in October, 1995, to introduce the European Rugby Cup to the world.
Within days the five nation, 12 team tournament had been renamed the Heineken Cup and one of rugby's greatest competitions was ready for the off.
The first game was played in Romania on Tuesday, 31 October, 1995, and since then the two tournaments - the Heineken Cup and the PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP - have grown to encompass the cream of the clubs from eight nations.
The former England international Roger Pickering succeeded Ken Reid as the Tournament Director in June 1996 and the former Irish international Derek McGrath became European Rugby Cup Limited's first chief executive in July, 2000.
The current chairman, the 47-times capped French centre Jean-Pierre Lux, took over his role from the former Ireland and Lions captain Tom Kiernan in April, 1999.
Together with his 11 fellow directors, and the eleven professional staff who work under the guidance of Derek McGrath at ERC's Dublin headquarters, Jean-Pierre Lux is dedicated to achieving the mission statement of the company, which reads:'European Rugby Cup Limited is dedicated to promoting, developing and raising the standards and profile of Rugby Union throughout Europe through the annual Heineken Cup and PARKER PEN CHALLENGE CUP tournaments.'