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Cardiff To Host Both 2011 Finals

6th December 2010

Cardiff will play host to both of ERC's 2011 finals with the 15th Amlin Challenge Cup showpiece match being staged at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, 20 May (kick-off 7.45pm).

Cardiff will play host to both of ERC's 2011 finals with the 15th Amlin Challenge Cup showpiece match being staged at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, 20 May (kick-off 7.45pm).

The Heineken Cup final is scheduled for the following day at the Millennium Stadium, the sixth time the tournament decider has been played in the Welsh capital, giving fans the opportunity to experience two high-profile European club finals in the one city in the space of 24 hours.

ERC, the tournament organisers, today (Monday, 6 December) broke new ground by naming the venue for the Amlin Challenge Cup final well in advance of the event.

“Traditionally, we have waited until much closer to the date before selecting the stadium for the Amlin Challenge Cup final,” said ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath. “However, the tournament has grown in stature to the extent that we are delighted to announce the final venue almost six months in advance of the match itself.

“Last season’s innovative decision to include three Heineken Cup clubs in the Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out stages provided a major boost to the competition, and by announcing the venue for the 2011 final at this time, participating teams as well as fans of European club rugby now know that all roads lead to Cardiff for the weekend of 20 and 21 May.”

The 2011 match will be the first Amlin Challenge Cup final staged in Wales and with capacities of 74,500 and 26,828 respectively, the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium could accommodate more than 100,000 fans at both games.

Cardiff Blues became the first Welsh team to win a European title last season when they beat Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup final in front of a record crowd of nearly 50,000 in Marseille. The Blues were one of three Heineken Cup teams to qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup and they defeated Newcastle Falcons, London Wasps and Toulon on the way to a landmark triumph for Welsh rugby.

“The Heineken Cup final has become an important date in the sporting calendar and we believe there is an opportunity to offer fans a tremendous culmination to the European season with a celebration of the best teams in the two ERC tournaments,” added McGrath.

“Ultimately, those four teams will compete for two European trophies in one city. May 20 and 21 promises to be a memorable weekend of sporting action.”

Welsh Assembly Member and Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, said: “With the Millennium Stadium already confirmed as the host venue for the 2011 Heineken Cup final, we are delighted that ERC has decided that Wales will showcase not just one, but two, European finals over two days next May, providing a weekend feast of top class rugby at two of Wales finest stadia.

“Following hot on the heels of a spectacularly successful Ryder Cup, today’s announcement is another important milestone towards Wales’ ambition to stand out amongst the global crowd as a world class major events destination.”

Meanwhile, fans who have already purchased tickets for the Heineken Cup final will have the opportunity to buy Amlin Challenge Cup final tickets at a discount, and that discount will also be available to fans wishing to buy Heineken Cup final tickets. Detailed ticket information for both finals can be found at

FRIDAY, 20 MAY, 2011
AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP FINAL – Cardiff City Stadium (7.45pm)
SATURDAY, 21 MAY, 2011
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL – Millennium Stadium (5.00pm)
Amlin Challenge Cup final ticket prices: £20, £36, £45
Heineken Cup final ticket prices: £30, £50, £60, £70 and £75
• Fans who have already bought a Heineken Cup ticket, and those wishing to buy a Heineken Cup ticket, can avail of a discount on the purchase of an Amlin Challenge Cup final ticket
• 4-person group tickets for the Amlin Challenge Cup final are available for £50
• 2011 Amlin Challenge Cup final ticket details can be found on and
• 25,000 tickets have been sold to date for the 2011 Heineken Cup final
In the summer of 2009 the ERC Board decided to reformat the Amlin Challenge Cup by building a bridge between that tournament and the Heineken Cup.

This was accomplished by the introduction of a system whereby teams ranked nine, 10 and 11 at the end of the Pool stages of the Heineken Cup would join the five Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners in the Amlin quarter-finals.
The top four Amlin qualifiers all have home advantage with the three Heineken Cup teams playing away and the highest ranked Amlin Pool winner taking on the fifth ranked Amlin qualifier.
However, in a change from last season, the draw for the semi-finals now will be an open draw.

These are the teams who qualified for last season’s Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals:

1. Connacht Rugby (Top ranked AAC Pool winner)
2. Toulon (Second ranked AAC Pool winner)
3. London Wasps (Third ranked ACC Pool winner)
4. Newcastle Falcons (Fourth ranked ACC Pool winner)
5. Cardiff Blues (Third best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
6. Gloucester Rugby (Fourth best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
7. Scarlets (Fifth best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
8. Bourgoin (Fifth ranked ACC Pool winner)
The quarter-final matches were:
1 Connacht Rugby (ACC 1) v Bourgoin 8 (ACC 5)
2 Toulon (ACC 2) v Scarlets 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 London Wasps (ACC 3) v Gloucester Rugby 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 Newcastle Falcons (ACC 4) v Cardiff Blues 5 (Heineken Cup 1)
Only Cardiff Blues of the three Heineken Cup qualifiers reached the last four – and they went on to become the first Welsh team to win a European title by beating Toulon in front of a record tournament crowd of 48,990 in Marseille.
If you applied this matrix to the two tournaments after two Rounds this season then the following teams would be setting their sights on a major European club rugby cup final date at Cardiff City Stadium on Friday, 20 May, 2011.
The hypothetical quarter-final pairings would be:
1 Sale Sharks  (ACC 1) v Harlequins 8 (ACC 5)
2 La Rochelle (ACC 2) v ASM Clermont Auvergne 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 Stade Français Paris (ACC 3) v Cardiff Blues 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 Montpellier (ACC 4) v London Wasps 5 (Heineken Cup 1)

Only La Rochelle and Montpellier of these teams has not been in a European final.
Amlin Rugby Ambassador Lawrence Dallaglio is the only player to captain sides to Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup glory. He is one of 15 London Wasps players who have won winners’ medals in both tournaments.

London Wasps did their double in successive seasons, a feat matched only by French international prop Patrice Collazo. He was a Heineken Cup winner with Toulouse in 2005 and an Amlin Challenge Cup winner with Gloucester the next year. Collazo is one of only seven non-Wasps to have done the double, and one of five Frenchmen. Herve Manent was the first player to win both titles, taking a Heineken Cup winners’ medal with Toulouse in the inaugural final in Cardiff in 1996 and an Amlin title with Colomiers two years late.

French internationals Yannick Bru and David Skrela joined him in the 1998 Colomiers side before going on to win the Heineken Cup with Toulouse. Another French international, Nicolas Bacque, won with Toulouse in the 1996 Heineken Cup final and then helped Pau win the Amlin final in 2000.
The other double winners are Argentine prop Martin Scelzo, who won the Heineken Cup with Northampton Saints at Twickenham Stadium in 2000 and the Amlin Challenge Cup with ASM Clermont Auvergne at the Twickenham Stoop seven years later. England scrum half Peter Richards also won his two titles in Twickenham – with London Wasps in the 2004 Heineken Cup final and with Gloucester in the 2006 Amlin Challenge Cup final.

• Cardiff hosted the first Heineken Cup final at the old national ground, Cardiff Arms Park in 1996. This season’s double header in the Welsh capital over the weekend of 20 / 21 May will take the city’s ERC cup final tally to seven (six Heineken and one Amlin).
• There will be space at the two finals to fit in more than 100,000 fans – 74,500 at the Millennium Stadium and 26,828 at Cardiff City Stadium.
• It will be only the second Friday night Amlin Challenge Cup final in the tournament’s 15-year history.
• Only three teams have won both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup. London Wasps were the first to do the double, winning the Amlin in 2003 and the Heineken Cup a year later. They were followed by Bath Rugby (Heineken Cup in 1997 and Amlin in 2008) and Northampton Saints lifted the Heineken Cup in 2000 and the Amlin in 2009.
• The first player to receive winners’ medals in both tournaments was lock Herve Manent – the Heineken Cup with Toulouse in Cardiff in 1996 and the Amlin Challenge Cup with Colomiers in Toulouse in 1998.
• Leicester Tigers outside half Jeremy Staunton kicked off the first rugby match played at the Cardiff City Stadium when Cardiff Blues hosted the Tigers in a friendly in August and 2010 Amlin Challenge Cup final winner Ceri Sweeney scored the first try.
• Cardiff Blues share the Cardiff City Stadium with Championship football team Cardiff City. The venue will be the fifth football stadium to host a tournament final after Stade Gerland, Lyon, in 1999; the Madejski Stadium in Reading in 2001, 2003 and 2004; the Kassam Stadium in Oxford in 2002 and 2005 and finally the Stade Velodrome in Marseille earlier this year.
• There is only 1.4 miles / 2.3 kilometres distance between the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium – the closest distance between the venues for a Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup final since 2007 when the games were played at Twickenham Stadium and Twickenham Stoop (0.7 miles / 1.1 kilometres).
• Cardiff City Stadium was designed and developed by PMG plc, who are the largest shareholders in Cardiff City FC.
• One of their directors is Mike Hall, the former Cardiff and Wales captain, who played in the inaugural Heineken Cup Final in 1996.
• The stadium is at the heart of a 60 acre redevelopment project that includes a 438,700 sq ft retail park and an international athletics stadium.
• The stadium was built at a cost of £38m and has a capacity of 26,828. Land clearance at the site began on 21 February, 2007, and construction workers came onto the site on 9 May.
• The ground was broken on the site of the new stadium by Cardiff Council leader Rodney Berman on 2 November, 2007.
• The ground was officially opened when Cardiff City played Scottish Premier League giants Celtic in a friendly on 22 July, 2009.
• The first international match played at the venue was a friendly between Wales and Scotland on 14 November, 2009. Wales won 3-0.
• The Stereophonics headlined the first gig at the stadium on 5 June, 2010.
• Record attendance for a match at the stadium is 26,049 for Cardiff City’s Championship clash with Swansea City on 7 November, 2010.