10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
While 28,600 fans attended the 2003 Heineken Cup final at the old Lansdowne Road, more than double will pass through the turnstiles at both finals as part of a weekend festival of club rugby that has developed into one of the major events in Europe's sporting calendar.
Research following the Cardiff 2011 finals showed that the economic impact on the Welsh capital from the 83,000 fans who attended the games amounted to €30 million, while Dublin Chamber of Commerce have estimated a direct economic dividend to the capital of €21 million based on the overseas visitors alone.
Friday week's Amlin Challenge Cup final between European specialists, Leinster, and Stade Francais at the RDS will kick off a weekend celebration of European club rugby, with a 50,000 crowd expected at the Aviva Stadium the following day for a heavyweight Heineken Cup final confrontation between the star-studded line-ups of Clermont Auvergne and Toulon.
With fans from all corners of Europe flocking into Dublin for the weekend, the talents of world class players such as Brian O'Driscoll, Sergio Parisse, Jonny Wilkinson and Wesley Fofana will be matched off the pitch by Irish hospitality, entertainment and camaderie.
ERC has entered into a partnership with Dublin City Council to create a 'European Champions Village' fan experience which will be situated on Dublin's iconic Merrion Square (South and East) offering a great opportunity for Dubliners to savour the unique atmosphere of a major European rugby occasion.
Opening from noon on Heineken Cup final day, the Champions Village will be the focal point for a pre-match and post-match gathering of fans, both local and overseas, serving as a HQ for the colourful supporters of both Clermont Auvergne and Toulon with live music, interactive games, a Heineken Cup trophy photo booth, a big screen live broadcast of the match, Heineken bars and local cuisine.
Working in tandem with Fáilte Ireland, ERC developed 5,000 Golden Ticket packages which offered seats to both finals as well as a one-day Dublin Pass with free admission to more than 30 top city attractions. Of the 22,000 overseas fans expected in Dublin, more than 3,000 will attend both finals.
Research has shown that on average, supporters stay in the host city for 1.9 bed nights, with the stay for those attending both finals rising to 3.7 nights.
Also as part of the build-up to the weekend, ERC has joined forces with Dublin City Council and Leinster Rugby to develop a grassroots programme to encourage children in non-traditional rugby areas of the Irish capital to take part in the European Challenge which will see 24 Under-12 teams playing in a blitz on Wednesday, May 15 in Irishtown.
A Dublinia Under-15 team has been formed and will play its first match against St. Michael's College on the Aviva Stadium back pitch for the inaugural Dublin 2013 Cup on the same day.
The Heineken Cup is regarded by many influential commentators as the world's most competitive club rugby tournament and the eyes of the rugby world will be on Dublin on Saturday week with the showpiece game between Clermont and Toulon being broadcast in over 150 countries worldwide.
Players from 12 nations are set to be involved in both clubs' matchday squads reflecting the global appeal of the tournament.
Meanwhile, ERC's second tournament, the Amlin Challenge Cup, continues to grow in stature and profile highlighted by the European pedigree of both Leinster and Stade Francais Paris who to date share six European final appearances between them.
ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath said: "With 22,000 overseas fans set to travel, Dublin has proven to be a hugely attractive setting for the European club rugby finals weekend which has developed over the years into one of the great events in Europe's sporting calendar.
"We have been working with Fáilte Ireland, the IRFU and Dublin City Council to ensure that supporters who visit the city, both overseas and closer to home, will enjoy a hugely positive experience of everything Dublin has to offer."
DUBLIN 2013 FINALS WEEKEND:
Friday, May 17 -
Amlin Challenge Cup final
Leinster v Stade Francais, the RDS, 8pm
Saturday, May 18 -
ERC European Champions Village, Merrion Square, from 12pm
Heineken Cup final
Clermont Auvergne v Toulon, Aviva Stadium, 5pm
DUBLIN 2013 BY NUMBERS:
• Tickets for both finals have been on sale since May 2012
• The Heineken Cup final initial public sale allocation of 30,000 sold out in one day
• 5,000 Golden Ticket Packages, with seats at both finals and a one-day Dublin Pass to city attractions, were sold
• Expected Amlin Challenge Cup final attendance of 18,500
• Expected Heineken Cup final attendance of close to 50,000 with only a small number of tickets now available
• 22,000 fans will travel from overseas to watch the matches with more than 3,000 of these attending both finals
• Research from the Cardiff 2011 finals pointed to an economic impact of €30 million
• Based on overseas fans alone, Dublin Chamber of Commerce estimate an economic benefit to the city of €21 million
• 44 teams from eight countries take part in ERC tournaments annually
• Heineken Cup matches have been played in 10 countries including Spain, Belgium and Switzerland, and Test players from as many as 21 nations were included in this season's squads
• Dublin 2013 will mark the first time that the Amlin Challenge Cup final has been played in Ireland, and the third time for the Heineken Cup final
• While Irish provinces have featured in eight of the 17 Heineken Cup finals to date, this will be the first time that Ireland are represented in a Challenge Cup final
• Irish referee Alain Rolland will be the man in the middle at the Heineken Cup final