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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
William Webb Ellis is the man credited with founding the game at Rugby School in 1823 and whose name lives on.
The Webb Ellis balls have been chosen by ERC from a shortlist of four major rugby ball manufacturers and will be used in all 175 Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup and European Shield matches.
Lawrence Webb, Managing Director of Webb Ellis and son of 12-times capped England wing Rodney Webb - but no relation to William Webb Ellis - said:
"To supply balls for such an elite tournament is a massive coup for us.
"It is a great endorsement for the quality and technology of the Webb Ellis ball and we are committed to an ongoing programme of research and development to provide the best match balls in the world.
"Our offices are in Rugby, about 100 metres from Rugby School, and, although we are a relatively new company and have been operating for only
about 18 months, we have tremendous internal experience that has producedrugby balls for the highest level of competition for the last 15 years. We
also produce sports equipment and leisure wear."
Derek McGrath, ERC Chief Executive, said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Webb Ellis. The deal incorporates supplying balls to the Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup and the European Shield. After rigorous performance based testing of different manufacturers' balls, ERC decided to go with Webb Ellis."
Neil Jenkins, the British and Irish Lions and Wales star and world Test points record holder, was one of the players involved in the testing and gives the Webb Ellis ball his prestigious seal of approval.
"It felt really good off the boot - in fact excellent - and it handles well," said the player with 1,090 international points to his credit. "As a kicker I know the importance of having a quality ball and the Webb Ellis ball is certainly a quality product."
The ERC tournaments kick-off on the first weekend of December and climax in the high profile Heineken Cup, European Challenge Cup and European Shield finals on 22 / 23 May, 2004.