The two highest-profile matches in the European club rugby calendar will be staged in France following today’s announcement that Lyon will host the 2016 European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals.
Both finals will take place at the brand new 59,000-capacity Grand Stade de Lyon which is set for completion early next year. The Challenge Cup decider will go ahead on Friday, 13 May 2016, with the Champions Cup final played the following day to bring the curtain down on the 21st season of European club rugby.
It has also been decided that the 2017 finals will be held in Edinburgh with the famous BT Murrayfield Stadium staging the Champions Cup showpiece while the venue for the Challenge Cup final will be announced at a later date.
Following a competitive tender process which was open to the countries who provide clubs to the Aviva Premiership, the Top 14 and the Guinness PRO12, the joint bid of the Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR) and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR) for the 2016 finals was deemed successful by the EPCR Board.
Having in addition received a strong bid from Scottish Rugby, the EPCR Board selected Edinburgh for the 2017 finals. This decision will assist with future planning for all the tournaments' stakeholders.
2016 will mark the fourth occasion that France has hosted European club rugby's most prestigious final. Bath Rugby were the winners in Bordeaux in 1998, then it was the turn of Leicester Tigers in 2001 at the Parc des Princes, before Toulouse won the title at the Stade de France in 2010.
The Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup finals will be the first major rugby occasions staged at the state-of-the-art Grand Stade de Lyon which will also be one of the venues for the UEFA Euro 2016 finals hosting six games including a semi-final.
EPCR chairman, Simon Halliday, who made the announcement in Neuchatel, Switzerland before the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup pool draws, said: "The joint bid of the FFR and the LNR was extremely strong from both a sporting and commercial perspective and the fact that we are bringing the finals to a superb new stadium in the heart of France is a hugely positive step for European club rugby.
"We also received an impressive bid from Scottish Rugby and in recognition, we will be staging our finals in the famous rugby city of Edinburgh in 2017.
"Looking ahead to next season, Lyon is a major French city and is readily accessible by air, train and motorway, so I'm confident that fans of the Champions Cup and the Challenge Cup will travel in numbers next May to make it a truly memorable weekend of rugby."
FFR president, Pierre Camou, said: "To be able to welcome the 2016 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals to France is hugely satisfying. By awarding us next year's European club finals, EPCR has recognised the French expertise in the area of organising major international events. Given the current success of French clubs in Europe, we're confident that the 2016 finals will be staged at a level to match the prestigious nature of the occasion.”
LNR president, Paul Goze, said: "The European Cup final is coming back to France. We are delighted about this and we would like to thank EPCR for the confidence they have shown in both the FFR and LNR ahead of next year's festival of European club rugby. The 2016 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will be the first major rugby occasions staged at the new Grand Stade de Lyon, which will be one of the finest modern facilities in Europe. We hope that all rugby fans will make their way to Lyon next May, and we would also like to think that two French clubs, with their supporters, will be there as well.”
Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby's Director of Commercial Operations, Communications and Public Affairs said: "We are extremely pleased our bid to host the pinnacle of European club rugby, the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup, has been successful. Scotland and Edinburgh have hosted European rugby finals twice before in 2005 and 2009 and we look forward to welcoming fans back again to BT Murrayfield in 2017."
Tickets for the Lyon 2016 finals which will showcase the very best of European club rugby will go on sale at a later date with full details available on epcrugby.com
LYON 2016 FINALS – Grand Stade de Lyon
European Rugby Challenge Cup final – Friday, 13 May 2016
European Rugby Champions Cup final – Saturday, 14 May 2016
EDINBURGH 2017 FINALS
European Rugby Champions Cup final – BT Murrayfield Stadium
European Rugby Challenge Cup final – venue to be confirmed
The EPCR Board is made up of the following directors: Simon Halliday (Chairman), Rob Andrew (RFU), Philip Browne (IRFU), Bruce Craig (PRL), Mark Davies (RRW), Mark Dodson (SRU), René Fontes (LNR), Fabrizio Gaetaniello (FIR), Gareth Davies (WRU), Ian McLauchlan (SRU), Paul McNaughton (IRFU), Michel Palmié (FFR) and Andrea Rinaldo (FIR).
The EPCR Executive Committee members are: Simon Halliday, Bruce Craig, René Fontes, Paul McNaughton and the Director General.
2015/16 Tournament weekends
Round 1: 12/13/14/15 November
Round 2: 19/20/21/22 November
Round 3: 10/11/12/13 December
Round 4: 17/18/19/20 December
Round 5: 14/15/16/17 January 2016
Round 6: 21/22/23/24 January 2016
Quarter-finals: 7/8/9/10 April 2016
Semi-finals: 22/23/24 April 2016
Finals: 13/14 May 2016