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The stunning San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao has been announced as the host of the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals in 2026, with the pinnacle of club rugby returning to the city which hosted the 2018 finals.

The sport-loving Basque city became the first ever host of an EPCR final outside of the traditional rugby-playing nations, and 2026 will see one of sport’s most thrilling club finals return to Biscay.

Leinster Rugby land fourth

In 2018, it was Leinster Rugby who were victorious in club rugby’s biggest game, as 52,282 fans witnessed the Irish province win a fourth Investec Champions Cup title with a 15-12 win over Racing 92.

Lining up as a wing that day, captain Isa Nacewa was the hero as he slotted two penalties in the final seven minutes of the match to secure victory.

Legendary fly-half Johnny Sexton had kicked three penalties earlier on, but four from the boot of scrum-half Teddy Iribaren had Racing 92 leading with ten to go before Nacewa stepped up to deny the Parisian club a first-ever title.

Cardiff Rugby clinch thriller

In the EPCR Challenge Cup final that same year, the San Mamés played host to another thrilling match as Cardiff Rugby won a thriller against Gloucester Rugby 31-30.

Cardiff Rugby fly-half Jarrod Evans and Gloucester Rugby centre Billy Twelvetrees were both instrumental for their sides, kicking 11 and 15 points respectively.

Both sides crossed three times, but with minutes to play it was full-back Gareth Anscombe who kicked a penalty to give Cardiff Rugby the win on a famous night in the Basque Country.

“Vibrant and exciting”

Opened in 2013, the San Mamés Stadium replaced the previous ground of the same name as the home of Athletic Club de Bilbao, one of the most historic football clubs in Spain.

The 53,000 capacity ground is widely regarded as one of the finest modern sporting stadiums in Europe, winning the Best Sports Building in the World accolade in 2015 from the World Architecture Festival.

The ground is situated close to Bilbao city centre, and will host this year’s UEFA Women’s Champions League final and next year’s UEFA Europa League showpiece.

Speaking on the 2026 EPCR finals, the Bilbao Council, the Provincial Council of Biscay and the Basque Government jointly said: “The Basque institutions are very satisfied and grateful with the designation of San Mamés as the venue for the 2026 EPCR Finals Weekend.

“We are committed to creating a vibrant and exciting celebration of rugby and our culture, with the Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup at the heart of those celebrations and look forward to showcasing our wonderful region to all the visiting fans.”

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