A SHOWPIECE weekend of European rugby union is to be held in the North-East in two years’ time.

Newcastle will stage the European Champions Cup, Challenge Cup and European Rugby Continental Shield in May 2019.

Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, said it was a “real coup” for the city and the region as a whole.

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He said: “It will bring thousands of fans from across Europe to the North-East, and with them a welcome boost to our local economy.

“A tremendous amount of work has gone into securing this for Newcastle against stiff competition, and it’s paid off.”

St James’ Park will stage the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals, with Newcastle Falcons’ Kingston Park Stadium hosting the European Rugby Continental Shield final on the weekend of May 10 and 11.

Lee Charnley, managing director of Newcastle United Football Club, said: “We’re delighted to welcome such a prestigious sporting event to St James’ Park.

“It 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.”

In recent years, the club has hosted Olympic football, the Rugby World Cup and the annual Rugby League Magic Weekends.

Mick Hogan, managing director of Newcastle Rugby, said: “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.”

The events form one of the biggest weekends in club rugby and are expected to generate millions of pounds for the regional economy.

Sarah Stewart, chief executive of destination marketing and management agency Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, said: “They will attract visitors from across the globe, boosting the economy and showcasing the area to new visitors, many of whom will return with friends and family in future.”