European Professional Club Rugby – the organiser of the European club cup competition – has announced which stadium will host the final weekend next year. The chosen venue will receive this unique honour for the first time.
Rugby is gaining popularity across Europe
A few days ago, the best club teams in union rugby on the Old Continent were announced. The 2022/2023 Heineken Champions Cup was triumphed by Stade Rochelais beating Ireland's Leinster Rugby in the final after a fierce 27–26 clash, while the EPCR Challenge Cup winner was France's RC Toulonnais confidently smashing Glasgow Warriors 43–19. Both matches were played on the weekend of May 19-20, 2023 at Aviva Stadium in Dublin and were watched live by 51,711 (full venue) and 31,514 spectators respectively.
Such numbers in the finals of the games that are the equivalent of football's Champions League and Europa League show that rugby is second only to football in terms of fan interest in Europe. The EPCR is keen for the superweekend to be staged in the most modern and largest arenas, so it is no surprise that such one has been chosen to host next year's finals of these cups. It is officially Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. The venue has a capacity of 62,850 and is the third largest in the UK capital - behind Wembley and Twickenham Stadium. However, it does have one undoubtedly strong asset which is that it is the newest of the aforementioned London’s big three.
Tottenham Stadium was a natural choice
What’s interesting is that Tottenham Hotspur's arena was about to host Europe's top rugby teams as early as 2023. However, it was hindered by... the World Cup. The autumn/winter timing of last year's tournament meant that the club's football season ended exceptionally late this year, almost in mid-June. This also meant that for the whole of May, the Spurs stadium was used exclusively by its owners. The finals of the games under the aegis of the EPCR could not be moved to June, as the 2023 Rugby World Cup starts in September. The tight schedule therefore severely complicated the situation.
In that case, the decision could not be other than to move the match weekend to another venue. The choice fell on Dublin, but plans to deprive the original host of the event were not abandoned. It was therefore natural to designate Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the final arena in 2024, a fact that Todd Kline, commercial director of Tottenham Hotspur, could not hide his enthusiasm about. - We are incredibly excited to be bringing more and more world-class sporting events to N17, enhancing the club’s ability to continue to invest in our football activities. With thousands set to descend on our neighbourhood from all over Europe and beyond for the EPCR Finals weekend in 2024, this also represents another huge moment for the area of Tottenham, delivering a further boost to our local economy. – Kline said. It is worth noting that the Spurs arena has not previously hosted an event of this stature.
The ECPR recently announced a bid to host the final weekend in 2025 and 2026, with a statement suggesting that the organisers are open to a stadium outside Europe. It seems, therefore, that this trend is inevitable and it may not be long before UEFA announces that the Champions League, Europa League or Europa Conference League final will be held in another part of the world too.