The San Mamés stadium in the Spanish city of Bilbao and St. James’ Park in Newcastle, England have been awarded hosting rights to the Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Continental Shield finals in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) made the announcement yesterday (Monday). Next year’s festival of events in Bilbao will mark the first time the finals have taken place outside of Europe’s traditional rugby territories.
The 53,289-capacity San Mamés is home to Spanish LaLiga football club Athletic Bilbao. EPCR praised the stadium, which opened in 2013, for its “impressive” bid. The stadium will serve as one of the host venues for the Uefa Euro 2020 national team football tournament, which will take place in cities across Europe.
St. James’ Park is home to English football club Newcastle United, which currently plays in the second-tier Championship following relegation from the top-tier Premier League last year.
St. James’ Park has experience of staging rugby union matches in the past, having hosted games during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The 52,354-seat stadium also stages Magic Weekend, an annual event contested by Super League rugby league clubs.
EPCR director general Vincent Gaillard said: “We had exceptional bids for the 2018 finals which is testimony to the transparent and detailed process that we have implemented. Bilbao is a state-of-the-art venue with a commitment to the financial and operational elements of our finals that will allow us to deliver outstanding rugby experiences in a new and exciting setting.
“Newcastle also gives us a top-class venue and a new city in England for the biggest matches in the European club game. To successfully engage with an unprecedented number of bidding cities over the last months shows the attractive proposition that our finals present and we see this a really positive sign for the future of European professional club rugby.“
Last year’s finals were staged at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais in Lyon, France. This year’s festival of events will run from October 14-16 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh, Scotland.