Champions Cup: Lyon and Edinburgh to host 2016 and 2017 finals
French city to host Europe's showpiece event for the first time before Scotland gets ready to host its first final since 2009
European Professional Club Rugby have confirmed that the 2016 European Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will be held in Lyon.
Both finals will take place at the 59,000-capacity state-of-the-art Grand Stade de Lyon, the new home of football club Olympique Lyonnais with the Challenge Cup final taking place on Friday 13 May with the Champions Cup final a day later.
Lyon will be the third French city to host European rugby’s showpiece final after Bordeaux hosting in 1998 and Paris with the Parc des Princes in 2001 and Stade de France in 2010.
The city in the heart of France has already hosted a Challenge Cup final back in 1999 when Montferrand defeated Bourgoin at the Stade de Gerland, but it will be the first time in the 21 years of competition that both finals have been held at the same venue.
EPCR chairman Simon Halliday praised the bids submitted by the French Rugby Federation (FFR) and Scottish Rugby Union.
“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,” said Halliday.
“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.”
The SRU will host the 2017 Champions Cup at BT Murrayfield in Edinburgh, but the venue for the Challenge Cup has not been decided given Edinburgh Rugby’s lack of a home stadium.
The early announcement will allow the SRU to negotiate with the city’s football clubs Hibernian and Hearts with a view to hosting Europe’s second competition at Easter Road (capacity 20,421) or Tynecastle (17,529).
Talks are already ongoing over a possible relocation of last season’s Challenge Cup runners-up Edinburgh Rugby to Easter Road and taking a European final to the Leith-based club could help move those negotiations along.
Dominic McKay, Scottish Rugby’s director of commercial operations, communications and public affairs believes the decision is an endorsement for the work the union and its partners have been doing.
McKay 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.”