Rugby in Dublin with European Cup Finals

Over 22,000 overseas fans are set to converge on Dublin next weekend (17/18 May) as part of a 70,000 strong contingent which will attend the Amlin Challenge Cup final at the RDS Arena and the Heineken Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.

Ten years after a Heineken Cup decider was last staged in Dublin, ERC’s European club rugby finals are back in the Irish capital bigger and better than ever.

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 (euro), while Dublin Chamber of Commerce have estimated a direct economic dividend to the capital of €21 million (euro) based on the overseas visitors alone.

Friday week’s Amlin Challenge Cup final between European specialists, Leinster Rugby, and Stade Francais Paris 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 ASM Clermont Auvergne and Toulon.

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 ASM Clermont Auvergne and RC 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.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Naoise Ó Muirí said “I look forward to welcoming fans from all corners of Europe to Dublin for this Rugby Weekend.  The Amlin Challenge Cup and the Heineken Cup Finals are the two premier Club Rugby games in Europe and Dublin is delighted to be hosting what promises to be two excellent games.  As a keen Leinster fan, I look forward to the Amlin Challenge Cup Final and wish Leinster the very best of luck in their bid to bring another European trophy home to Dublin.”

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, 15 May in Irishtown, while a Dublinia Under 15s team has been formed and will play its first match against St Michael’s College on the Lansdowne Road 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’ match-day 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 Rugby 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 European club rugby finals weekend
Friday, 17 May
Amlin Challenge Cup final
Leinster Rugby v Stade Francais Paris, RDS Arena (20.00)
Saturday, 18 May
ERC European Champions Village, Merrion Square (from 12 noon)
Heineken Cup final
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Toulon, Aviva Stadium (17.00)

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 clubs 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 club 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 clubs 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.

ERC European Champions Village
Merrion Square (South and East), Saturday, 18 May 2013

12.00  Gates Open
Face painting and ‘Speed Challenge’ in ERC activity zone

12.15    Heineken Cup trophy arrives with special guests on open-top bus
adidas Q & A with some of Europe’s leading players

12.30  Heineken Cup trophy photo opportunities in ERC activity zone
Keywest play live on stage

14.30  The LOLS play live on stage
17.00  Heineken Cup final live on big screen
19.00  DJ till close