North East to stage European rugby's showpiece finals in 2019

Newcastle's winning bid team
Newcastle's winning bid team

Newcastle has won the rights to stage European rugby's showpiece finals in 2019.

The European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and European Rugby Continental Shield will all take place in the city in May 2019, which could generate upwards of £20m for the region.

St James's Park

St James's Park

Newcastle United's St James's Park will host the Champions Cup finale as well as the Challenge Cup decider, while Newcastle Falcons' Kingston Park will be the location for the Continental Shield, a competition used for qualification for the Challenge Cup, which will take place on the 10th/11th May in two years time.

In an unexpected move Newcastle's winning bid was announced a year early, alongside next year's host Bilbao, by organisers European Professional Club Rugby due to the strength of the package put together by Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Rugby Limited.

Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley thinks the news is a welcome boost to the sporting community across the city and region.

"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 the annual Rugby League Magic Weekends over recent years," he said.

"Today’s announcement is fantastic news for the city and the region and we are sure that the European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and the Continental Shield 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, echoed that sentiment.

He said: "This is great news for rugby in Newcastle and the wider North East region.

"To be successful in our 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 the three finals over two days to look forward to but also a Rugby Village fan park and various community events in the lead up to the weekend. We will 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."

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Nick Forbes, 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."

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing and management agency NewcastleGateshead Initiative, thinks the tournament has the potential to put the region in foucs on the global stage.

"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."