Before the draws took place for next season’s Champions Cup and Challenge Cup pool stages in Neuchatel, Switzerland yesterday, EPCR chairman Simon Halliday revealed the host cities for the finals weekends of 2016 and 2017, with the Scottish capital following on from the French city of Lyon.
BT Murrayfield will host the elite Champions Cup final for the third time, while the venue for the second-tier final is to be confirmed at a later date. Hibernian’s 20,000-capacity Easter Road is the second biggest stadium in the city and would be a leading candidate after being considered as the potential venue for the Challenge Cup final when Scotland unsuccessfully bid to host in 2014. The SRU has also been reported to have been in talks with Hibernian about potentially playing some Edinburgh Rugby games at Easter Road next season.
Hearts’ Tynecastle Stadium would also be in the mix but has a smaller capacity and a tighter pitch than their Edinburgh football rivals. It has been common for the Challenge Cup final to be played at a smaller stadium in the same host city as the Champions Cup final… for example, The Stoop last season when Edinburgh lost 19-13 to Gloucester on the eve of the Champions Cup final between Toulon and Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham. The likes of Cardiff City Stadium and the RDS in Dublin have also staged the second-tier finals.
Next season, however, both finals will take place at the brand new 59,000-capacity Grand Stade de Lyon, so there is a possibility that BT Murrayfield, with its hybrid pitch, could host each of the games. Scottish Rugby developed the bid to bring the cup finals to the country in partnership with the Scottish Government and Event Scotland and welcomed the decision of the EPCR board.
Scottish Rugby’s director of commercial operations, communications and public affairs Dominic McKay said: “I am absolutely delighted we have been chosen to host the prestigious European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup finals.
“It is a real endorsement of the work Scottish Rugby and its partners have achieved and will create a fantastic sporting weekend in Edinburgh and bring fans to the city from across Europe.
“We have a great track record of putting on world-class events, including the highly successful hosting of the previous European Cup finals in 2005 and 2009 at BT Murrayfield and this award will give us a further chance to showcase the passion for rugby and international sport here in Scotland.”
In 2005 Toulouse won the then Heineken Cup final in Edinburgh, beating Stade Francais 18-12. Four years later Leinster were crowned European champions in the Scottish capital when they beat Leicester 19-16 before 66,523 fans.