Guinness PRO12: Ulster’s Kingspan Stadium to host 2015 final
'Team Belfast' chosen to host league's first 'destination final' by unanimous decision after tender process
Ulster Rugby’s redeveloped Kingspan Stadium will host the 2015 Guinness PRO12 Final as Belfast was named as the host city.
The league invited all 12 clubs and their respective regions to bid to host the final, which will be held on Saturday 30 May 2015, with the Irish province chosen as the winner.
Belfast excelled itself as the host city for our PRO12 season launch in 2013 and their plans for the city in the lead up to and around the final are very exciting
It is the first time in the league’s history that it will have a ‘destination final’ with a festival of rugby taking place throughout the city in the build-up to the main event at the 18,000-capacity stadium.
“Belfast is an inspiring host city and the new Kingspan Stadium is a state-of-the-art venue for the Guinness PRO12 Final,” said PRO12 Rugby CEO John Feehan.
“Given the development of the competition, the time is right for a showcase event and we invited offers from all 12 clubs and their regions to host the final.
“The tender from ‘Team Belfast’ was outstanding and was unanimously agreed as the chosen venue.
“Belfast excelled itself as the host city for our PRO12 season launch in 2013 and their plans for the city in the lead up to and around the final are very exciting.
“Our competition is truly unique. 12 clubs, four unions, one trophy – we are delighted to be able to work with our partners to promote the variety of fantastic international destinations that the Guinness PRO12 has to offer.”
Four of the last five finals have been staged at Leinster’s RDS Arena, with Ulster unable to host the 2013 final due to Ravenhill, as it was then named, not meeting capacity criteria.
The Ospreys are the only visiting club to have left a final at the RDS as champions when they defeated Leinster 17-12 in the 2010 Grand Final with Ulsterman Tommy Bowe getting the first of the Welsh region’s two tries, and Wales wing Shane Williams scored a dramatic 78th-minute winning try as the Ospreys came from behind to stun Leinster 31-30 in 2012.
But Leinster returned to winning ways in 2013 with a win over Ulster, before becoming the first club to retain their title with a comfortable win over Glasgow Warriors last May.
Fierce provincial rivals Munster are the only other club to host a PRO12 final, when they defeated Leinster back in 2011.
While Scottish and Welsh rugby fans will be disappointed to learn that another final will be staged in Ireland, Shane Logan, Ulster Rugby’s CEO, welcomed the decision by league organisers to accept the bid to bring the PRO12 final to Belfast.
“We are extremely pleased that our bid to host the Guinness PRO12 Final was successful,” Logan said.
“Belfast is a vibrant sporting city and through [Northern Ireland] Executive funding, Kingspan Stadium is now a state-of-the-art rugby stadium, fit to stage a game of this magnitude.
“While we hope that our province is in the final, we are fully committed to working with the PRO12 to ensure, that regardless of who contests it, that this event is a huge success.”
The PRO12 final will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland and regional broadcast partners – to be confirmed once the finalists are known in May – with on sale through Ulster Rugby and Ticketmaster next week, three days before the start of the Six Nations.