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Cardiff And Bilbao To Host 2025 And 2026 EPCR Finals

Cardiff And Bilbao To Host 2025 And 2026 EPCR Finals

Leinster won their most recent Champions Cup title at Bilbao's San Mamés Stadium in May 2018 ©INPHO/James Crombie

EPCR has announced that Cardiff and Bilbao have been selected as the respective host cities for the prestigious 2025 and 2026 Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals.

Following a highly competitive tender process conducted in conjunction with The Sports Consultancy that generated impressive bids from 23 stadia across 12 countries, the Board of EPCR awarded the 2025 Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals to the Welsh capital’s iconic 74,000-capacity Principality Stadium.

Cardiff’s Principality Stadium is widely regarded as one of the world’s great sporting venues. It was also decided that the 2026 showpiece matches would return to the superbly-appointed San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao, Spain.

Dominic McKay, Chairman of EPCR, said: “We are delighted today to confirm Cardiff and Bilbao as the host cities of the 2025 and 2026 EPCR finals weekend.

“Returning to Cardiff 30 years on from the iconic first final means a great to deal to us and our friends here in the city, and we will celebrate the milestone appropriately.

“We know this rugby heartland will not only be proud to host this historic weekend, but will welcome rugby fans from across the world to join us in Cardiff for our EPCR finals weekend in 2025.

“For 2026, we cannot wait to return to Bilbao, which hosted a superb celebration of rugby in a world-class destination in 2018. Our selection of host cities such as this reflects our intention to continually deliver outstanding experiences for fans, teams, and stakeholders for our marquee weekend.

“We know Bilbao will attract spectators from a varied demographic, bringing our sport to even more fans in a stunning host city. We would like to thank the many bidding cities for their great enthusiasm in hosting our finals weekend.

“We were delighted to receive so many bids and expressions of interest from across the world. The final decisions were certainly challenging given the high standard of all bidders, and we are looking forward to working with Cardiff, Bilbao, and all the stakeholders to deliver two more superb finals weekends.”

Cardiff has a long and illustrious connection with EPCR having staged high-profile Champions Cup deciders on seven previous occasions, the last being in 2014.

Next year’s event will celebrate the 30th edition of EPCR’s elite final since Toulouse made history by defeating Cardiff after extra-time at the old National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, in 1996, adjacent to the site of the Principality Stadium, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this season.

Abi Tierney, WRU Group CEO, commented: “We are thrilled that Principality Stadium has been chosen to host the ultimate competition in club rugby – the 2025 Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals.

“It’s been 30 years since Cardiff hosted that first final at Cardiff Arms Park and we embrace the opportunity to host the 2025 finals at Principality Stadium, in the year we celebrate 25 years of our magnificent stadium.

“We look forward to working closely with our partners at Welsh Government, Cardiff Council, and EPCR to deliver an outstanding event, welcoming new and long-standing rugby supporters from across the globe to the city of Cardiff, to soak up the unrivalled atmosphere at the home of Welsh rugby.”

Cardiff Council Leader, Cllr Huw Thomas, stated: “Cardiff and rugby have always gone hand in hand, so we’re delighted to welcome the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals back to the city for the first time in a decade, for what promises to be a memorable weekend.

“Since it opened, events at the Principality Stadium have generated in the region of £2 billion in visitor spending and supported more than 50,000 full-time jobs locally – clear evidence that as well as making for a special atmosphere in the city, major events like this also deliver significant economic benefits.

“Historically, the EPCR always performs strongly for host cities in terms of visitor numbers and spend. In fact, the last time the tournament came to Cardiff it generated £24 million in direct economic impact just from a single Saturday match. Next year, with a whole weekend to enjoy, we would anticipate that being higher again.”

Welsh Government Deputy Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, Dawn Bowden, added: “Wales now has a well-established global reputation in hosting the highest profile sporting events, and we’re delighted that this tournament will provide such an exciting addition to that record of achievement.

“These events do so much to showcase our venues, raise our profile around the world and demonstrate our values as a welcoming nation to all.

“Staging the tournament finals in the iconic Principality Stadium in our capital city will provide players and fans with an unforgettable event experience and will raise the profile of the sport in Wales, the UK, and across the world. We look forward to welcoming the players and supporters to Wales. Croeso i Gymru.”

Bilbao was a landmark choice in 2018 when the city staged the first EPCR finals weekend outside of rugby’s traditional six nations, and so successful were the matches in the heart of the vibrant Basque country with Leinster capturing the Champions Cup title and Cardiff lifting the Challenge Cup trophy, that the San Mamés Stadium will once again be the destination for tens of thousands of fans of the competitions in 2026.

The Bilbao Council, the Provincial Council of Biscay, and the Basque Government jointly said: “The Basque institutions are very satisfied and grateful with the designation of San Mamés as the venue for the 2026 EPCR finals weekend.

“We are committed to creating a vibrant and exciting celebration of rugby and our culture, with the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup at the heart of those celebrations, and look forward to showcasing our wonderful region to all the visiting fans.”

Home to Athletic Club de Bilbao, the 53,000-capacity San Mamés Stadium was awarded the Best Sports Building in the World accolade in 2015 by the World Architecture Festival. It will also host this season’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final and the 2025 UEFA Europa League final.

Since the first decider in 1996, EPCR finals have been staged at 23 different venues in six countries. The dates of the 2025 and 2026 finals weekends, as well as ticketing arrangements, will be announced in due course.