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Dublin: 16 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020

The Champions Cup final definitely won't be in Ireland next season

The FFR has made a bid to bring the 2016 decider to Stade Vélodrome in Marseille.

Updated at 21.50

AS THE GRUMBLES around this weekend’s all-French Champions Cup final in London continue, French rugby authorities are making a strong play to host next season’s decider on home soil.

Stade Will the Stade Vélodrome host next season's final?

The most recent top-tier European final to take place in France was the 2010 meeting between Toulouse and Biarritz, when 78,962 people were present at Stade de France to watch Guy Novès’ men secure a 21-19 win.

The FFR [Fédération Française de Rugby] is keen to host the final again next season, given the five-year gap and the increasing dominance of the Top 14 clubs in the European competition.

With their bid now confirmed, it appears that Marseille’s Stade Vélodrome will be the stadium of choice. The 67,000-capacity Marseille venue has hosted Toulon’s semi-finals in the last two seasons [against Munster and Leinster], as well as Top 14 fixtures and France’s Test match against Fiji last November.

French media sources are suggesting that an announcement on next season’s final may be made as soon as this weekend, following the clash between Toulon and Clermont at Twickenham.

However, The42 understands that confirmation will not come until mid-June, when the pools for next season’s Champions Cup are drawn in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

The tender process for the right to host the 2016 final is open at present and The42 believes that there are two other contenders alongside the French bid at this stage.

The IRFU confirmed to The42 that they will not be bidding to host next season’s final, instead focusing their intention on the confirmed bids to bring the 2023 Rugby World Cup and 2017 Women’s Rugby World Cup to Ireland.

General view of Aviva Stadium Dublin hosted the 2013 final. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

This season’s final was originally slated to take place in the San Siro in Milan in an effort to grow the game and venture into new territory, although that plan was agreed upon before the demise of the Heineken Cup and the ERC.

EPCR instead opted to shift the final to Twickenham, where they now expect an attendance of between 45,000 and 50,000 on Saturday.

It remains unclear if the FIR [Federazione Italiana Rugby] has bid to host next season’s final. The San Siro will host football’s Champions League final on 28 May, 2016.

Toulon have returned somewhere in the region of 40% of their ticket allocation for this weekend’s final and club president Mourad Boudjellal has shared his anger that the venue is London.

The outspoken millionaire says it was always likely that two French clubs would contest this season’s final and, as such, the show-piece should have been hosted in Paris.

“If I had been the French representative on the EPCR body, this final would not have taken place in London and it would have been so from the beginning of the season,” Boudjellal told La Provence. ”It would be in Paris.”

Mourad Boudjellal Boudjellal believes this season's final should always have been slated for France. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“When you look at the history of European Cups in recent years, the likelihood of two French clubs being in the final again this year was higher than two British clubs.

“That the final is in London demonstrates that our French representatives are not living up to our clubs. Our representatives have cost Toulon and Clermont supporters a lot of money.

“Honestly, for a European Cup final we could fill a stadium [in France] in the space of two weeks without any problems. 35,000 tickets were sold in ten days for our semi-final at Stade Vélodrome [against Leinster].

“Why haven’t we managed to sell more tickets for a final? It’s a shame. It would have been a beautiful rugby festival in France.”

With the most recent five final venues reading London, Cardiff, Dublin, London, Cardiff, Boudjellal may just get his wish for a French-hosted decider next season.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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