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Millennium Stadium to host 2011 Heineken Cup Final

The world's biggest club rugby final returns to the Welsh capital next year before moving to Twickenham in 2012

ERC, the Heineken Cup organisers, have announced that the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff will host the 16th Heineken Cup final on the weekend of 21/22 May 2011.

ERC have also confirmed that the 2012 Heineken Cup final will be played at Twickenham Stadium, London, for a fourth time on the weekend of 19/20 May, 2012.

The WRU won the bid to host the world's biggest club rugby final, which will return to the Welsh capital for the sixth time in 16 seasons.

With ERC's season structures already in place for both 2011 and 2012, it was also decided to seek bids to host the 2012 Heineken Cup final and the RFU was successful in securing the showpiece match for the fourth time.

This weekend will see thousands of fans from France and the rest of Europe converge on Paris for the 2010 Heineken Cup final between Biarritz Olympique and Toulouse in front of yet another sell-out crowd at the Stade de France.

However, at the very beginning of European club rugby 15 years ago, Cardiff hosted the first two Heineken Cup finals when French clubs Toulouse and Brive won the coveted trophy at the old National Ground, Cardiff Arms Park.

The magnificent Millennium Stadium was built to host the 1999 Rugby World Cup on the same site as the Arms Park, and has since hosted three more European finals.

Leicester Tigers became the first team to complete back-to-back Heineken Cup triumphs when they beat Munster in 2002, in front of a then tournament and stadium record crowd of 74,600, however, the Irish side returned to Cardiff to beat French opposition and raise the trophy in 2006 and 2008.

"We are delighted to be coming back to Cardiff for the 2011 Heineken Cup final. It is a city that has fully embraced the Heineken Cup ever since our first season when the home team reached the inaugural final," said ERC Chief Executive, Derek McGrath.

"We have already staged five hugely successful finals in the Welsh capital and it will be exciting for all the clubs in the tournament to be aiming to play at the magnificent home of Welsh rugby.

"Following on from the successful partnership model adopted for the Cardiff 2006 and 2008 finals, ERC will be working in partnership with the WRU, Millennium Stadium plc, Welsh Assembly
Government and Cardiff City Council to create a truly memorable Heineken Cup final occasion with a sell-out crowd.

"ERC are also very much looking forward to our return to Twickenham in 2012. Twickenham successfully staged the Heineken Cup final in 2000, 2004 and 2007 and we fully expect another memorable occasion in two years time."

WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, welcomed the news stating: "The decision to stage the 2011 Heineken Cup final in the Millennium Stadium is a great honour for Wales and for Welsh rugby.

This event will bring tens of thousands of visiting fans into our capital and create a truly carnival atmosphere for a game which is certain to be a sell-out.

"The three finals staged at the Millennium Stadium in recent years have generated more than £50 million for the Welsh economy and the event has had a hugely beneficial financial impact on the Welsh nation.

"The Heineken Cup is now the most successful and important club rugby competition in the world game and boasts a truly international following. The tournament has captured the imagination of all true sports fans and continues to grow and develop at an impressive pace.

"All our Regions have strong links with the Heineken Cup and this announcement will give our competing Welsh teams an extra incentive to reach the final in 2011. The WRU is proud to be part of the history of this great competition and we are determined to help the ERC deliver a fantastic event in 2011."

Martyn Thomas, Chairman of the RFU Management Board, commented: "In 15 short years the Heineken Cup has become a vivid and exhilarating part of the rugby landscape. Year on year it is becoming more competitive, more high profile and more exciting. The opportunity to host the 2012 final at Twickenham, the largest rugby stadium in the world, is a privilege and we look forward to an 82,000 full house to celebrate the best of European club rugby."

Tickets for the Cardiff 2011 Heineken Cup final at the Millennium Stadium went on pre-sale today, Monday 17 May, to erc.rugby.com subscribers. Information regarding the public sale of tickets, which begins on Saturday 22 May, will be posted at a later date on ercrugby.com

Wasps back in Heineken Cup

Next season also marks the return of the Heineken Cup to Adams Park, with Wasps having confirmed their return to Europe's premier club rugby competition. Wasps are guaranteed at least three Heineken Cup Pool matches at home, which are included in 2010/11 Season Tickets. Make sure you're there at the heart of the action!

Click here to read more about 2010/11 Season Tickets and to download the renewal form.

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