18 May, 15:44
It's down to the wire now for the five contenders who have been shortlisted for the ultimate individual accolade in northern hemisphere rugby, ERC European Player of the Year 2013.
Research following the Cardiff 2011 finals showed that the economic impact to the Welsh capital from the 83,000 fans who attended the games amounted to €30 million (euro).
The research also demonstrated that over 84% of fans who attended the finals were from outside Wales with 61% staying at least one night in the host city, while those who attended both finals stayed even longer.
With both 2013 finals being played in close proximity, up to 70,000 supporters will have the opportunity to visit the city and savour what has become an unmissable weekend festival of European club rugby.
Starting with the Amlin Challenge Cup decider, taking in the European Champions Village, and climaxing with the final of the Heineken Cup which is widely regarded as the world's most competitive club rugby tournament, Dublin will offer fans a special sporting experience in the space of a weekend.
Speaking at the event today Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport said: "I am delighted to be here today and I'm really looking forward to Dublin being transformed into the European Capital of Rugby next year. Only last week we officially launched the Gathering Ireland 2013, which encourages everyone with an Irish connection to return home next year. I believe next year's Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup Final will provide a real festival feel during The Gathering, and will be a great addition to our events calendar for The Gathering for next year."
2013 will be the third occasion that the Heineken Cup final has been staged in Dublin, and with Leinster Rugby and Ulster Rugby meeting in Saturday's historic showdown at Twickenham Stadium, there is certain to be an Irish name on the trophy when the final returns to the capital in 12 months.
Next year will be the first time that Dublin has hosted the Amlin Challenge Cup final. The tournament which features clubs from up to eight European countries could see an Irish involvement in the knockout stages as every season three Heineken Cup clubs qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals.
"The decision of the ERC Board to stage both the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup finals in Dublin reflects the hugely positive impact Irish clubs and fans have had on European club rugby," said ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.
"ERC has already begun working with Fáilte Ireland and our local partners to ensure that the tens of thousands of supporters who will visit the city will enjoy a hugely positive experience of everything Dublin has to offer."
ERC, with the support of Fáilte Ireland, has further incentivised loyal fans of European club rugby by offering a special value 'Dublin 2013 Golden Ticket' package for next year's finals weekend which includes admission to both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals as well as a one-day Dublin Pass which gives the user free access to over 30 tourist attractions in the capital.
A total of 5,000 of the tickets, which are on offer at €75 (Category 2 seats) and €99 (Category 1 seats)
Speaking at the event Keith McCormack, Head of Events at Fáilte Ireland, said -
"As the national tourism authority we are delighted to be working with the ERC to ensure that Dublin takes full advantage of this promotional opportunity and we will be doing everything we can to encourage more people to not only come for the rugby but to spend a few days discovering all that the city has to offer."
The public allocation for both 2013 finals will go on sale on Monday, 21 May at 12.00 noon with full details on www.ercrugby.com
2013 ERC Finals
Friday, 17 May 2013: Amlin Challenge Cup final, RDS, Dublin
Saturday, 18 May 2013: Heineken Cup final, Aviva Stadium, Dublin