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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
Only Munster and reigning champions Leinster are so far guaranteed Heineken Cup quarter-final tickets, so there will be the usual number of twists and turns to come in the over the next few days.
There will also be plenty of drama from Thursday onwards in the Amlin Challenge Cup with two clubs in each of the five Pools still in contention for top spot. The most dramatic weekend of action in European rugby will kick-off at Edgeley Park on Thursday night when two-time tournament winners Sale Sharks host former Heineken Cup holders Brive.
That will be the first of 22 fixtures across the two tournaments that will determine which 16 clubs move forward to chase the top two titles in northern hemisphere club rugby.
As well as Toulouse, two more Heineken Cup winners, Ulster Rugby (1999) and Leicester Tigers (2001, 2002), as well as the Ospreys, could conceivably make their Amlin Challenge Cup debuts depending on results.
"Since we launched the system of three Heineken Cup runners-up joining the Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners in the quarter-finals the quality has certainly risen. To add to that, the winners of the Amlin Challenge Cup are assured of a place in next season's Heineken Cup," said ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.