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Newcastle bidding to host 2018 European finals weekend

St James' Park in Newcastle could host the 2018 European Champions Cup final.

Aviva Premiership club Newcastle have announced the city will bid to stage rugby union's European showpiece weekend in May 2018.

The Champions Cup final, won last season by Saracens, would be held at Newcastle United's ground, with the Falcons' Kingston Park hosting the European Challenge Cup final, while the Challenge Cup qualifying competition final would also take place in the city.

The bid is a partnership between Newcastle City Council, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, Newcastle United Football Club and Newcastle Rugby Ltd, and has been submitted with the support of the Rugby Football Union and Premiership Rugby.

St James' Park has a capacity in excess of 52,000 and successfully staged a trio of games during last year's Rugby World Cup, with full houses attending matches involving New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Tonga and Samoa.

The ground has also hosted rugby league's 'Magic Weekend' for the past two seasons, as well as staging Olympic football during the London 2012 Games.

A short-list of 2018 candidate cities is due to be drawn up by tournament organisers European Professional Club Rugby later this month, after which venue visits will take place. A final decision is set to be made next April, a month before the 2017 European finals in Edinburgh.

In a statement released by the Falcons, Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley said: "We have a strong recent history of hosting major rugby events at St James' Park.

"The sell-out crowds we have welcomed - record attendances in many cases - pay testament to our ability to excel at the hosting of such high-profile sporting events. We would be delighted to host the 2018 European Rugby Champions Cup final at St James' Park."

And Newcastle Rugby Ltd managing director Mick Hogan added: "Securing the 2018 finals would be another significant boost for the development and growth of rugby in the region.

"The city has two great venues in St James' Park and Kingston Park Stadium, which would ensure a fantastic weekend of club rugby."

Premiership Rugby, umbrella organisation for England's 12 Premiership clubs confirmed its "100 per cent support" for the bid.

"The north of England is crying out for a big rugby union final, and this match will deliver a big boost to the game in a hot-bed for the sport," Premiership Rugby's rugby director Phil Winstanley said.

"It is great to see so many organisations in the north-east coming together to support this bid, and it shows the commitment of the region to staging an unforgettable weekend of European rugby union. We believe this is the right bid for rugby to help develop the game in the north of England."

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