10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
"When ERC announced in October that the final of this prestigious tournament would be returning to Dublin for the second time in its history, everyone connected with the city was overwhelmed. The Irish capital is a superb venue for a whole range of sporting activities, but it has a special place in its heart for visiting rugby union fans.
"We have already seen five great Heineken Cup ties in Dublin this season, with our own Leinster Lions beating Bristol, Swansea and Montferrand at Donnybrook, Biarritz at a packed Lansdowne Road and finally losing out in the semi-final to mighty Perpignan last weekend, and the game on the 24th will be the pick of the bunch.
"Toulouse are renowned throughout European rugby as being the Real Madrid of the professional club game and, from what I saw and heard last weekend, Perpignan, with their close links with Spain, are like Barcelona.
"I'm sure the players will be excited at the prospect of playing at an international venue of the stature of Lansdowne Road and I know that Dublin will be throwing open its doors to every French rugby fan who travels to watch the game.
"Great events are made by great teams playing in front of great crowds at great stadia. I think we've got the right cocktail for a fantastic day in Dublin on May 24th and I urge every serious sports fan in France, Ireland and the UK not to miss out."
Meanwhile, Dublin Tourism is weighing in behind the final and promising to give French visitors a great time while they're here.
A press release issued by Dublin Tourism says, From the moment ERC announced that Dublin had won the right to stage the 2003 Heineken Cup final the Irish Tourist Board has been promoting it as one of the top sporting events in Europe. The event has grown in stature since it was last played at Lansdowne Road in 1999 and it will be a major occasion for the Irish capital.
Ireland is reaping the reward of promoting itself as a great sporting venue and events like the Special Olympics, Ryder Cup 2008, and of course the Grand Slam showdown between Ireland and England, showcase our nation.
Hosting the Heineken Cup final is on a par with those great events and will give Dubliners the chance to show the visiting French fans how appreciative and supportive they can be of great sporting events. The game between Toulouse and Perpignan may be an all-French affair, but it will also be a truly international occasion.
The game will give the sports loving Irish public the chance to join in the fun and adopt one of the two teams that knocked-out our own gallant challengers for this great title, Munster and Leinster Lions, at Lansdowne Road. It promises to be a day not to be missed.
The global television exposure that Dublin will receive from hosting the game will be amazing, the benefit to the hotels, shops, restaurants and bars will run into millions of euros and the general feel-good factor of hosting a major European sporting occasion is bound to provide the whole city with a boost.
Ireland has never hosted a major European soccer cup final and, as competition increases to host the Heineken Cup final and semi-finals, this could be one of the last chances for some time for the locals to attend an event of this stature.
Whatever happens on May 24th there will be a smile on French faces. They are guaranteed a great time in Dublin and will be taking back to France the most prestigious club trophy in world rugby. But there should also be a smile on Irish faces given the huge benefits the event will bring to the tourist industry.