Mixed ability rugby to be showcased at Heineken Champions Cup Final.
The greater Dublin area is in line for a potential economic spin-off worth about €50m from the hosting of the Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup Finals later this month, marking a decade since the finals event last took place in Ireland in 2013.
Leinster will play reigning Heineken Champions Cup holders Stade Rochelais at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday May 20, while the previous day, Glasgow Warriors will take on RC Toulon in the EPCR Challenge Cup Final at the same venue.
“It will bring a huge financial boost to Dublin’s restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels, and to the wider region”
The 51,700 capacity Aviva Stadium is sold out for the HeinekenChampions Cup, with demand for tickets for the eagerly anticipated showpiece match between two of the world’s most powerful clubs, Leinster Rugby and holders, Stade Rochelais particularly high.
Supporters from Ireland, France, and Scotland will be very heavily represented – given clubs from those countries are taking part in the finals, but the weekend is also likely to draw spectators from other locations, as last year’s finals in Marseille saw international visitors from 12 countries making the journey to the EPCR Finals Weekend in France.
Irish spectators will be a combination of those living locally in the greater Dublin/Leinster area, rugby fans from the rest of Ireland, and an influx of emigrants coming home for the Finals. Last year – leaving aside accommodation – fans who attended the finals spent an average of €176 per day on meals, drinks, shopping and local travel.
“We are so excited to have the Heineken Champions Cup Final in Dublin again for the first time in 10 years, said Heineken Ireland managing director Sharon Walsh. “It will bring a huge financial boost to Dublin’s restaurants, bars, shops, and hotels, and to the wider region. With over 500 promotions in pubs nationwide, colourful matchday set ups and fan experiences around Dublin city centre, excitement is really building, and the Heineken brand will be a key part of what promises to be a truly special sporting occasion.”
Overseas fans are likely to spend an average of almost two and a half days at the Finals, as typically, many will attend both games. Last year, just over half of the non-local spectators stayed in commercial accommodation in the host city.
The overall economic boost for the Dublin region also includes a significant spend by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), the organisers of the Finals.
“We are delighted that our EPCR Finals are in Dublin and are looking forward to two excellent spectacles of world-class rugby,” said EPCR Chief Executive Anthony Le Page. “Based on our experience last year, about two-thirds of the total Finals’ Weekend budget will be spent in Dublin and €8 out of every €10 that we spend on events and operations will go to local suppliers in Dublin,” Le Page added.
“The EPCR Finals Weekend is always a major event for our host cities, generating profile throughout the season’s build-up and significant economic impact, both direct and indirect, over the course of the weekend itself. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with all our stakeholders to deliver this incredible weekend, now just days away.”
All about the atmosphere
The EPCR Finals Weekend will create a great buzz throughout the city, according to Donall O’Keeffe, the Chief Executive of the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), the representative body for Dublin pubs. “Our members are expecting a wonderful atmosphere over the weekend from visitors and locals alike, as we partner with Heineken to deliver an exciting fan experience across the city,” Mr O’Keeffe said.
Meanwhile, for the first time ever, the Heineken Champions Cup Final will showcase International Mixed Ability Rugby (IMART). Mixed Ability Rugby is played by players with and without disabilities on the same team. Last June, the IMART World Cup was held in Cork, supported by Heineken Ireland, with more than 1,100 players from 28 teams from 15 nations taking part, which saw Cork team The Sunday’s Well Rebels winning the men’s trophy at this World Cup.
To mark this world class achievement for Irish mixed ability rugby, players from a number of Irish mixed ability rugby teams will take part in an inaugural lap of honour at half-time during the final at the Aviva, and the pre-match coin toss will be performed by James Healy, a Mixed Ability Rugby player from Sunday’s Well Rebels in Cork.
“Heineken Ireland was delighted to be an official partner for the IMART World Cup last year, and the Heineken Champions Cup Final is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the sport of Mixed Ability Rugby to all rugby fans at the home of rugby in the Aviva, and also to those watching at home,” said Walsh.
“Mixed Ability Rugby is a truly inclusive event, that chimes with Heineken’s core values, such as caring for people, true joy and togetherness, and we look forward to continuing to support IMART into the future.”
Main image at top: Donall O’Keeffe, CEO, Licensed Vintners Association and Sharon Walsh, Managing Director, HEINEKEN Ireland, with the coveted ‘Star Cup’ at the Aviva Stadium