St. James' Park to host 2019 European rugby finals
Newcastle will stage European rugby’s showpiece weekend in May 2019 when the European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition finals are held in the city.
The news forms part of a double announcement which sees the 2018 finals awarded to Bilbao, tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) deciding to make an early decision regarding the 2019 finals based on the strength of Newcastle’s bid.
Newcastle United’s St James’ Park will stage the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, with Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park Stadium hosting the European Rugby Continental Shield final on the weekend of 10th/11th May 2019.
Combined, they form one of the biggest weekends in club rugby, generating over €20.4m million in total economic impact.
The bid is a joint partnership between Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Rugby Limited.
Councillor Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: "We're absolutely thrilled that Newcastle has been named as host city for the 2019 European rugby finals, which is a real coup for the city and the North East.
"Our vision is to make Newcastle the Great North City, and we were resolute in those ambitions as we worked to secure this top tier tournament for our city, and showcase what we have to offer. It will bring thousands of fans from across Europe to the North East, and with them a welcome boost to our local economy.
"A tremendous amount of work has gone into securing this for Newcastle against stiff competition, and it's paid off."
Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing and management agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “Securing the 2019 European Rugby Champions Cup final, European Rugby Challenge Cup final and European Rugby Continental Shield final is fantastic news for the destination.
“These major games will attract visitors from across the globe, boosting the local visitor economy and showcasing the area to new visitors, many of whom will return with friends and family in future. I’d like to say well done and thank you to all the partners involved.
“2019 is set to be a huge sporting year for the destination as we also gear up to welcome the World Transplant Games. All of this will come hot on the heels of Great Exhibition of the North 2018, and demonstrates once again that NewcastleGateshead is a world-class place to host major events.”
Echoing that enthusiasm, Lee Charnley, managing director of Newcastle United, said: “We’re delighted to welcome such a prestigious sporting event to St James’ Park on the back of other hugely successful showpiece events including the Olympics, the Rugby World Cup and three consecutive annual Rugby League Magic Weekends.
"Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the city and the region and we are sure that the European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and Challenge Cup Qualifying Competitions will prove every bit as popular with spectators in the region and across Europe, as those previous events have been.”
Mick Hogan, managing director of Newcastle Rugby Ltd, said: “This is great news for rugby in Newcastle and the wider North East region.
"The European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup are the best clubs and region-based competitions in world rugby, and it is very exciting for the city that we have managed to secure the 2019 finals."
Hogan added: “To be successful in winning the bid to host these prestigious events is a testament to the already-strong partnership between the Falcons, Newcastle United FC, NewcastleGateshead Initiative and the City Council.
"I must place on record the tremendous work already done by these partners, the support of Premiership Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the local constituent bodies in helping bring this world class event to Newcastle.
“The hard work starts now to deliver a truly memorable finals weekend. It’s not just three finals over two days but will also involve a Rugby Village fan park and various community events in the lead up to the weekend.
"We need to ensure that Newcastle 2019 leaves a real tangible legacy for rugby in the region, one which aids the growth and retention of participants at all levels.”
"We’re delighted to welcome such a prestigious sporting event to St James’ Park on the back of other hugely successful showpiece events."