The home of English rugby will host this year's Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals in May – and fans will be present as Covid-related restrictions start to ease
Twickenham to stage the European finals
This year’s Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals will take place at Twickenham, the home of English rugby. And in a welcome boost, up to 10,000 spectators will be permitted for each game, subject to licences being granted by the local authority.
The Challenge Cup final will be on Friday 21 May at 8pm, with the Champions Cup final following on Saturday 22 May at 4.45pm. Tickets for the finals went on sale on Friday 30 April, with prices starting at £45.
The Champions Cup final will be an all-French affair, as occurred at Twickenham six years ago. Toulouse defeated Bordeaux-Bègles 21-9 to reach the final for a record seventh time. Victory later this month would make them the first team to win the trophy five times.
Up against them will be first-time finalists La Rochelle, who beat Leinster 32-23 at Stade Marcel Deflandre. Will Skelton, the Australian second-row, could win a second winner’s medal following success with Saracens in 2019.
Leicester Tigers were the first team to book their place at HQ, beating Ulster 33-24 in the first Challenge Cup semi-final at Welford Road. They will face Montpellier, who dug out a gutsy 19-10 win at Bath in the other semi-final.
European Cup finals at Twickenham
2000 Northampton 9-8 Munster
2004 Wasps 27-20 Toulouse
2007 Wasps 25-9 Leicester
2012 Leinster 42-14 Ulster
2015 Toulon 24-18 Clermont
The return of spectators, albeit in reduced numbers, is a significant stepping stone towards the full stadiums that rugby, and sport in general, has missed for so long.
“Fans are the lifeblood of European club tournaments and we are delighted to be able to welcome them back in a Covid-secure environment for this season’s finals,” said EPCR chief executive Vincent Gaillard. “Twickenham has a storied history with club rugby’s greatest tournament, and it will be a fitting venue to see silverware contested next month.”
Marseille had been initially due to stage the finals, but restrictions put in place to limit the transmission of Covid-19 made it impractical to accommodate all ticket holders. The matches have been deferred to 2022 as a consequence. The finals will return to London in 2023 when they will be played at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
All spectators who attend either of this year’s finals are required to sign up to a code of conduct. Face coverings will be mandatory within the stadium, unless a spectator is in an assigned seat consuming food or beverages, and social distancing will be required at all times.
The RFU is working with Richmond Council, and other key stakeholders such as the Metropolitan Police and South Western Railway, to ensure the events are as safe as possible for spectators, staff and local residents. Additional measures will be in place, including increased cleaning, extra toilet provision, assigned gate entry and a revised transport plan.
Plans are also advanced for the 2021/22 season with confirmation that 24 clubs – including eight representatives from each of the Gallagher Premiership, Top 14 and Guinness Pro14 – will once again contest the Heineken Champions Cup.
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