ERC, the tournament organisers, today (Monday, 6 December) broke new ground by naming the venue for the Amlin Challenge Cup final well in advance of the event.
"Traditionally, we have waited until much closer to the date before selecting the stadium for the Amlin Challenge Cup final," said ERC Chief Executive Derek McGrath. "However, the tournament has grown in stature to the extent that we are delighted to announce the final venue almost six months in advance of the match itself.
"Last season's innovative decision to include three Heineken Cup clubs in the Amlin Challenge Cup knock-out stages provided a major boost to the competition, and by announcing the venue for the 2011 final at this time, participating teams as well as fans of European club rugby now know that all roads lead to Cardiff for the weekend of 20 and 21 May."
The 2011 match will be the first Amlin Challenge Cup final staged in Wales and with capacities of 74,500 and 26,828 respectively, the Millennium Stadium and Cardiff City Stadium could accommodate more than 100,000 fans at both games.
Cardiff Blues became the first Welsh team to win a European title last season when they beat Toulon in the Amlin Challenge Cup final in front of a record crowd of nearly 50,000 in Marseille. The Blues were one of three Heineken Cup teams to qualify for the Amlin Challenge Cup and they defeated Newcastle Falcons, London Wasps and Toulon on the way to a landmark triumph for Welsh rugby.
"The Heineken Cup final has become an important date in the sporting calendar and we believe there is an opportunity to offer fans a tremendous culmination to the European season with a celebration of the best teams in the two ERC tournaments," added McGrath.
"Ultimately, those four teams will compete for two European trophies in one city. May 20 and 21 promises to be a memorable weekend of sporting action."
Welsh Assembly Member and Heritage Minister, Alun Ffred Jones, said: "With the Millennium Stadium already confirmed as the host venue for the 2011 Heineken Cup final, we are delighted that ERC has decided that Wales will showcase not just one, but two, European finals over two days next May, providing a weekend feast of top class rugby at two of Wales finest stadia.
"Following hot on the heels of a spectacularly successful Ryder Cup, today's announcement is another important milestone towards Wales' ambition to stand out amongst the global crowd as a world class major events destination."
Meanwhile, fans who have already purchased tickets for the Heineken Cup final will have the opportunity to buy Amlin Challenge Cup final tickets at a discount, and that discount will also be available to fans wishing to buy Heineken Cup final tickets. Detailed ticket information for both finals can be found at ercrugby.com
AMLIN CHALLENGE CUP FINAL - Cardiff City Stadium (7.45pm)
HEINEKEN CUP FINAL - Millennium Stadium (5.00pm)
Heineken Cup final ticket prices: £30, £50, £60, £70 and £75
• 4-person group tickets for the Amlin Challenge Cup final are available for £50
• 2011 Amlin Challenge Cup final ticket details can be found on www.ercrugby.com and www.ticketmaster.co.uk
• 25,000 tickets have been sold to date for the 2011 Heineken Cup final
THE HEINEKEN CUP LINK
This was accomplished by the introduction of a system whereby teams ranked nine, 10 and 11 at the end of the Pool stages of the Heineken Cup would join the five Amlin Challenge Cup Pool winners in the Amlin quarter-finals.
These are the teams who qualified for last season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals:
2. Toulon (Second ranked AAC Pool winner)
3. London Wasps (Third ranked ACC Pool winner)
4. Newcastle Falcons (Fourth ranked ACC Pool winner)
5. Cardiff Blues (Third best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
6. Gloucester Rugby (Fourth best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
7. Scarlets (Fifth best Heineken Cup Pool runner-up)
8. Bourgoin (Fifth ranked ACC Pool winner)
1 Connacht Rugby (ACC 1) v Bourgoin 8 (ACC 5)
2 Toulon (ACC 2) v Scarlets 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 London Wasps (ACC 3) v Gloucester Rugby 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 Newcastle Falcons (ACC 4) v Cardiff Blues 5 (Heineken Cup 1)
1 Sale Sharks (ACC 1) v Harlequins 8 (ACC 5)
2 La Rochelle (ACC 2) v ASM Clermont Auvergne 7 (Heineken Cup 3)
3 Stade Français Paris (ACC 3) v Cardiff Blues 6 (Heineken Cup 2)
4 Montpellier (ACC 4) v London Wasps 5 (Heineken Cup 1)
Only La Rochelle and Montpellier of these teams has not been in a European final.
THE DOUBLE WINNERS
London Wasps did their double in successive seasons, a feat matched only by French international prop Patrice Collazo. He was a Heineken Cup winner with Toulouse in 2005 and an Amlin Challenge Cup winner with Gloucester the next year. Collazo is one of only seven non-Wasps to have done the double, and one of five Frenchmen. Herve Manent was the first player to win both titles, taking a Heineken Cup winners' medal with Toulouse in the inaugural final in Cardiff in 1996 and an Amlin title with Colomiers two years late.
IT'S A FACT