Newcastle’s St James’ Park stadium, venue for the European Finals Weekend in May, will host a Gallagher Premiership match two months before between Newcastle Falcons and Sale Sharks. 

The Heineken Champions Cup Pool 5 leaders will entertain European Challenge Cup Pool 3 front runners Sale in a match dubbed ‘The Big One’ on March 23. 

They will be hoping to return to St James’ Park – home of Newcastle United FC – on May 11 for the Heineken Champions Cup final after a stunning start to their campaign, defeating RC Toulon and Montpellier on consecutive weekends in October.

Speaking to the Falcons’ official website, director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It was an incredible experience to be involved in last season’s fixture at St James’ Park and the chance to go there again is another fantastic opportunity for us and our supporters. 

“The North East public are renowned for coming out and supporting major events. It will be a real celebration of rugby and to play at such an iconic stadium is a chance not to be missed.” 

At the Heineken Champions Cup launch at St James’ Park, Richards had forecast that the venue would be one to savour for Finals Weekend. 

He said: “You’re getting all sorts of sports up here, which are of the highest calibre. Whichever teams get through to the finals, in the Challenge and Champions Cups, they’ll love it up here. The surface is brilliant. The atmosphere in the stadium is fantastic. I just hope that we’re there.”