A total of 62 clubs have participated in the Heineken Cup, tournament matches have been played in 10 countries, including Belgium, Spain and Switzerland, and millions of viewers in over 150 countries will be watching this afternoon's high-profile game at the Aviva Stadium.
With fans flocking into Dublin from Europe's rugby strongholds and new areas alike for last night's Amlin Challenge Cup final at the RDS Arena and for today's high-point of ERC's weekend celebration, the Heineken Cup is regarded by many influential commentators as the world's most competitive club rugby tournament.
The ambitious participating clubs, their outstanding players, and the growing legions of supporters who attend European club games are at the heart of this growth. By the time the dust settles on the sold-out Dublin finals, well over one million fans will have attended this season's matches in the Heineken Cup.
In addition, one of the key factors which differentiates today's final from the match in 2003 is the fact that as many as 12 nations are represented in the Clermont and Toulon squads whereas the international flavour 10 years ago was confined to five countries. With the truly cosmopolitan nature of the players and the increased global profile of the tournament, it is no surprise that more and more leading players and coaches are looking to come to Europe to experience the Heineken Cup's unique appeal.
When the whistle is blown for the last time later this evening by match referee, Alain Rolland, we will have a new name on the coveted trophy as Clermont and Toulon are appearing in their first final. Clermont booked their place with a dramatic victory over Munster Rugby at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier in a game which was graced by two magnificent sets of supporters and played in exactly the right sort of combative spirit for which the tournament is famous.
Toulon, for their part, travelled to Twickenham Stadium and triumphed over Saracens with a thoroughly convincing all round performance to bring about the fourth all-French final in the Heineken Cup's illustrious 18-year history.
England's Exeter Chiefs and Zebre of Italy made their debuts in the tournament and new ground was broken when Saracens brought their pool match against Racing Metro 92 to Brussels. A record attendance for a tournament quarter-final in the United Kingdom was set when Saracens defeated Ulster Rugby at Twickenham Stadium in front of 37,888 spectators.
Against this vibrant landscape, ERC posted record revenues last year of €52 million - double the figure from 2005/06 - which are reinvested in the professional game. In addition, the competing clubs generate an estimated total of €50 million each season through ticket sales, hospitality, sponsorship uplift and other commercial activity around their matches. The international profile of the tournaments is reflected by the quality and range of brands such as Heineken, FedEx, EDF, Amlin, Dove Men+ Care and adidas which are productive partnerships with ERC.
Indeed, Heineken's involvement since the inaugural season in 1995/96 is an example of one of the most successful and enduring title sponsorships in world sport. ERC's second tournament, the Amlin Challenge Cup, has also made major strides over the past four years in particular.
Since a decision was taken to allow three Heineken Cup clubs to qualify for the quarter-finals, the Amlin Challenge Cup has increased in status and quality to the extent that the clubs which reached this season's knockout stage boasted as many as 14 European titles among them.
Last night, a new name was added to the Amlin Challenge Cup roll of honour when Leinster Rugby, who have proved themselves European specialists in recent seasons, met Stade Francais Paris at a sold-out RDS Arena, and today, fans of all creeds and club colours will be gathering at the European Champions Village in Merrion Square to share in the camaraderie of a finals weekend.
ERC remains committed to raising the standards of refereeing across Europe and the work of our Match Official Performance Manager and former international referee, Donal Courtney, epitomises that commitment. All ERC match official appointments are made following a comprehensive review of performances across all relevant tournaments in conjunction with feedback from the Referee Managers in each Union and from club coaching staff.
The weekend has also marked a milestone as Ref Cam, courtesy of our host broadcaster Sky Sports, was used for the first time at a major rugby final in last night's Amlin Challenge Cup decider, and will also be in use today by our referee, Alain Rolland, to enable viewers to avail of innovative close-quarter footage.
Looking ahead, work is ongoing to deliver a blueprint, based firmly on the principles of solidarity and respect for sovereignty, for the future development of European club rugby for the 2014/15 season and beyond. This current review involving ERC's key stakeholders takes place at the end of five years of a seven-year cycle and it represents a hugely valuable opportunity to map out the future with confidence.
The drive over the past 18 years to develop and strengthen the club game in Europe and to bring compelling matches to new audiences has been encapsulated by events in Italy this season. Not alone have Benetton Treviso further enhanced their reputation as a geniuine force, particularly on home soil, but the Italian national side achieved its best performance to date in the RBS Six Nations finishing ahead of both France and Ireland.
The beating heart of ERC's European project remains the Heineken Cup and today's final represents the pinnacle where players, coaches and supporters alike aspire to be. I am sure we are in for another enthralling contest between two elite clubs.
This might be the Year of the French in the Heineken Cup, but once again the rugby world will be watching.