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.
Whenever Bedlinog tackle Penallta a massive fixure is guaranteed but this Sunday there will be even more emphasis placed on the two rivals when they contest the SSE Swalec Plate final at Principality Stadium.
Ahead of their SSE SWALEC Bowl Final clash with Taffs Well at Principality Stadium on Sunday, Burry Port share their #FABXV nomination with WRUTV in the search for Welsh rugby's greatest volunteers. Everyone can get involved by sending nominations via twitter to @WRU_Community using the hashtag #FABXV
Cardiff Blues prop Gethin Jenkins and Ospreys centre Ben John look ahead to the first game at Principality Stadium in Saturday's double header which is promising to be a special occasion for all Welsh fans.
Carmarthen Quins Director of Rugby Ian Jones and committee member Jeff Thomas along with Llandovery chairman Handel Davies look ahead to Sunday's SSE SWALEC Cup showdown where both teams are out to prove 'West is best'
SWALEC ambassador Shane WIlliams is looking forward to Sunday's Finals Day where the Cup, Bowl and Plate offers a great opportunity for players and teams to experience the magic of playing at Principality Stadium
Carmarthen Quins coach Richard Kelly believes it is an exciting time to be part of the Scarlets region as his side take on local rivals Llandovery in the SSE Swalec Cup final on Sunday, as WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie discovers