European finals head to Bilbao and Newcastle

11:40 AM GMT

The European Champions Cup final will head to pastures new with Bilbao and Newcastle confirmed as the hosts for the 2018 and 2019 tournament finales.

The finals for both the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup will be played out in Murrayfield this year, but EPCR — the body in charge of European domestic rugby — has decided to take the tournament to places outside the traditional hotbeds for showpiece rugby finals.

Bilbao will stage the 2018 finals with Athletic Bilbao’s 53,289-capacity San Mames Stadium hosting the final while Newcastle United’s St James’ Park will welcome Europe’s finest in 2019.

“We are very excited to be taking the best club rugby in the world to fans in what is largely a new market,” EPCR chairman Simon Halliday said. “Bilbao is an excellent destination which breaks new ground for our tournaments and we see this as a big step in the expansion of our sport across the continent.

“Fans have previously flocked to matches in Spain both in the European Cup and for last season’s TOP 14 final, and they will be sure of a unique, atmospheric weekend in 2018.

“Newcastle’s commitment to the bid also made it an easy decision to award them the finals in 2019, building on their significant experience of staging major sporting occasions including Rugby World Cup 2015 matches.”

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