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ERC can confirm that the Federation Française de Rugby (FFR) has withdrawn its application to host the 2014 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup finals, due to the ongoing uncertainty regarding the availability of the Stade de France.
The announcement was made at the French launch of the 2012/13 tournaments which was held at the headquarters of France Télévisions in Paris on Monday, 24 September.
The event, which was attended by representatives of the seven French Heineken Cup clubs and by Stade Francais Paris who are competing in the Amlin Challenge Cup, is one of four official launches organised by ERC in advance of the 2012/13 European club rugby season. Further launches will be held in London (1 October - Sky Studios), Dublin (2 October - Aviva Stadium) and Rome (8 October - Stadio Olimpico) over the next fortnight.
The attendance in Paris included Guy Novès and Thierry Dusautoir of four-time Heineken Cup winners and current French champions, Toulouse, as well as Laurent Rodriguez and Imanol Harinordoquy of the 2012 Amlin Challenge Cup winners, Biarritz Olympique.
Two clubs - Exeter Chiefs (England) and Zebre (Italy) - are competing in the Heineken Cup for the first time, and five stadiums will be new to the world's most competitive tournament: King Baudouin Stadium in Brussels, Scotstoun (Glasgow Warriors), Salford City Stadium (Sale Sharks), Sandy Park (Exeter Chiefs) and Stadio XXV Aprile (Zebre).
In Round 1, Racing Metro 92 will host Munster Rugby at the Stade de France, and Toulouse will meet Leicester Tigers at Le Stadium. In Round 2, Castres Olympique are moving their game against Northampton Saints to Stade Ernest Wallon, while Saracens will take their clash with Racing Metro 92 to the King Baudouin Stadium. Then in Round 4, reigning champions, Leinster Rugby, will renew their rivalry with ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Aviva Stadium.
With the Brussels fixture set to bring Heineken Cup action to Belgium for the first time, tournament games will have been played in the following 10 countries: England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Wales, Romania, Spain, Switzerland and Belgium.
The Amlin Challenge Cup will feature three newcomers to European club rugby in London Welsh (England), Rugby Mogliano (Italy) and Bizkaia Gernika RT (Spain). Stade Francais Paris will take the tournament to new French audiences by moving their three 'home' games to Le Havre, Le Mans and Valenciennes.
The Amlin Challenge Cup will kick off on Thursday, 11 October with the Heineken Cup getting underway the following day. Both 2013 finals will be staged in Dublin with the Amlin Challenge Cup set for Friday, 17 May at the RDS (20.00) and the Heineken Cup going ahead at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday, 18 May (17.00).