The eleventh Heineken Cup final will be played on Saturday 20 May 2006 at the Millennium Stadium (kick-off 3pm) - ten years on from the inaugural final at Cardiff Arms Park between Toulouse and Cardiff in January 1996.
Speaking on the second day of the ERC Clubs Conference in Cardiff involving delegates from the 44 clubs competing in the Heineken Cup (24) and European Challenge Cup (20), the tournament organisers, today (Thursday 1 September) announced that European club rugby's showpiece match will be back on a Saturday after being staged on a Sunday for the last two seasons.
Over 3,000 tickets have already been sold for the 2006 Heineken Cup final with the big kick-off to the eleventh tournament still fifty days away. The record Heineken Cup final attendance of 74,600 was set at the Millennium Stadium for the 2002 clash between Leicester Tigers and Munster and ERC is targeting another bumper crowd for Cardiff '06.
Meanwhile the 2005 final, won by Toulouse for a record third time in front of a Murrayfield crowd of 51,326, netted the Scottish economy £12m. The results of an independent economic impact study conducted into the Edinburgh final last May concluded that the event had been worth around £12 million to the Scottish economy, some £9.5 million of which had been spent in the area of the Scottish capital.
The study, conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys, interviewed some 800 spectators and those surveyed gave a big thumbs-up to the atmosphere, overall enjoyment of the Heineken Cup final and experience of Edinburgh for the final weekend itself. Other conclusions of the study were:
* Most spectators had booked their tickets three months in advance of the final
* Overall 34% of spectators stayed overnight with the majority staying in Edinburgh
* 16% attending the final took time to see Edinburgh's tourist sites
* 24% took time to shop in Edinburgh spending on average £114 per person
"These results prove that the partnership approach we first adopted when we came to Cardiff in 2002, and have enhanced at every final since then, is working well to build the value of the Heineken Cup final for all its stakeholders," said Derek McGrath, ERC Chief Executive.
"The strategy we applied was to market not only our event, but also Edinburgh and Scotland, and we are preparing to roll out our Cardiff '06 campaign in partnership with the WRU, Millennium Stadium, City of Cardiff Council, Wales Tourist Board and the Welsh Assembly Government.
"With a Saturday final, we are confident of turning our 11th showpiece final into a weekend-long event that will be a festival of rugby for all sports fans.
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Cardiff managed to keep their unbeaten record at home intact, but only just as Bridgend made them work extremely hard before the Blue and Blacks secured a hard fought Principality Premiership win at the BT Sport Arms Park last night.
Former Wales back row Andy Powell gives a guided tour of The Wern, home of Merthyr RFC, who are determined to prove a lot of people wrong and make their mark in their first season in the Principality Premiership.
Wales Sevens head coach Gareth Williams looks back on the Rio Sevens success where he helped GB win silver. He believes the successful campaign is a huge boost to his Welsh squad as they prepare for another World Series, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers
British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland will be heading back home to take on the All Blacks next year where for him, success for 2017 is all about going to New Zealand and winning a Test Series.
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Llandovery made it three in a row when they defeated Aberavon in the final of the National Foster's 7s at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park on Sunday. On another eventful day of sevens, Newport claimed the Plate and the Dragons won the women's crown
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Wales Under 18 captain Callum Bradbury is delighted to have seen his side claim a narrow 18-17 victory against a strong SA Schools 'A' side to end the three-match Under 19 International Series in South Africa on a high note.
The Wales U18 squad spent an emotional day in the drug-riddled townnship of Hout Bay. Hout Bay Warriors President Fred Johannes said the visit was 'the talk of the town' and will dream about the day everyday for the rest of his life.
RGC 1404's new head coach Mark Jones is hoping to build 'something special' in north Wales and is already looking forward to the development region participating in the Principality Premiership for the very first time.