Tournament organisers, ERC, announced today that the Heineken Cup final will be returning to Dublin in 2013, following the selection of the Aviva Stadium as the venue for European rugby’s 18th showpiece occasion.
The Heineken Cup final was last held in Dublin in 2003 when Toulouse beat Perpignan 22-17 at Lansdowne Road although since then the stadium, both old and new, has staged an array of classic European contests.
Only last season on their march to a second Heineken Cup final triumph, Leinster defeated both Leicester Tigers and Toulouse at the Aviva Stadium as attendances at the home of Irish rugby surpassed the 600,000 mark for European matches.
“The Aviva Stadium is a world class venue which has quickly established a close affinity with the Heineken Cup having staged three matches last season, including two magnificent knockout games,” said ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath.
“The Heineken Cup final has become one of the most prestigious sporting fixtures in the European calendar and it now requires long range planning in order to deliver the spectacle we enjoyed in Cardiff just over a fortnight ago.
“Last year we confirmed the final venues for the following two seasons, and today’s announcement allows ERC to prepare the way for Dublin in 2013 while we continue to work with Twickenham Stadium on next season’s final in May 2012.
“Ireland has provided four Heineken Cup champions in the past six seasons and Irish rugby is steeped in the history of the tournament since it began 16 years ago.
“The decision of the ERC Board to bring the Heineken Cup final back to Dublin for the first time since 2003 is further recognition of the passion that Irish fans have for the tournament and we are confident that our showpiece game in 2013 will be another landmark occasion in the history of Irish rugby and sport.”
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne said: “The Aviva Stadium has hosted some memorable international and Heineken Cup games in its short lifetime and is now firmly embedded as the home of Irish rugby.
“We felt it was important for the stadium that it would get this opportunity to host the pinnacle game of European club rugby and this is not only good news for the game in this country, but also for Dublin.
“It is estimated that rugby contributes over €;200m to the Irish economy, and the recent Ireland-England Six Nations game generated just over €;51m to the Dublin economy.
“While the financial benefits are particularly strong, the prestige and exposure for the game in this country are just as powerful, and in hosting the first Heineken Cup final since 2003, I am sure that Irish rugby and the city of Dublin will deliver yet another memorable occasion.”
Cllr Gerry Breen, Lord Mayor of Dublin, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the finalists and fans to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium in May 2013 for the Heineken Cup final.
“It will give us a great opportunity to showcase the many delights that are Dublin. I would like to congratulate the IRFU on being awarded the honour of hosting the final in the city of Dublin.”
Leo Varadkar TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, said: “Dublin is ideally suited to hosting such a prestigious event. It is a city known for its warm welcome to visitors and will be a familiar destination for rugby supporters.
“I have no doubt that our proud sporting heritage, our knowledgeable and enthusiastic fan base, and our proven ability to successfully host major sporting events will guarantee a Heineken Cup final to remember.
“Rugby is an increasingly popular sport in Ireland. Irish rugby has enjoyed some great successes in recent times.
“Leinster’s sensational comeback victory over Northampton Saints in last month’s Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium was the fourth time in the last six years that an Irish team has triumphed in Europe’s top club competition.
“I believe that being afforded the privilege of hosting a Heineken Cup final in 2013 will be a fitting tribute to all those who have worked so diligently and so imaginatively to bring Irish rugby to its current level of success.”
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