The European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is an annual rugby union tournament organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR). It is the top-tier competition for clubs whose countries' national teams compete in the Six Nations Championship. Clubs qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup via their final positions in their respective national/regional leagues (Gallagher Premiership, TOP 14, and Guinness Pro14) or via winning the second-tier Challenge Cup; those who do not qualify are instead eligible to compete in the second-tier Challenge Cup.
Between 1995 and 2014, the competition was known as the Heineken Cup but was changed to European Rugby Champions Cup, following disagreements between its shareholders over the structure and governance of the competition. Heineken returned as sponsor for the 2018–19 season, running the competition alongside the EPCR, resulting in the competition being known as the Heineken Champions Cup.
|Heineken Champions Cup|
|Current season or competition:|
2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup
|Inaugural season||1995–96 as Heineken Cup|
2014–15 as Champions Cup
|Number of teams||20|
|Holders||Leinster (4th title) (2017–18)|
|Most titles|| Leinster|
Toulouse (4 titles)
|Related competitions||European Rugby Challenge Cup|
European Rugby Continental Shield
The Heineken Cup was launched in the summer of 1995 on the initiative of the then Five Nations Committee to provide a new level of professional cross border competition. Twelve sides representing Ireland, Wales, Italy, Romania and France competed in four pools of three with the group winners going directly into the semi-finals. English and Scottish teams did not take part in the inaugural competition. From an inauspicious beginning in Romania, where Toulouse defeated Farul Constanţa 54–10 in front of a small crowd, the competition gathered momentum and crowds grew. Toulouse went on to become the first European cup winners, eventually beating Cardiff in extra time in front of a crowd of 21,800 at Cardiff Arms Park.
Clubs from England and Scotland joined the competition in 1996–97. European rugby was further expanded with the advent of the European Challenge Cup for teams that did not qualify for the Heineken Cup. The Heineken Cup now had 20 teams divided into four pools of five. Only Leicester and Brive reached the knock-out stages with 100 per cent records and ultimately made it to the final, Cardiff and Toulouse falling in the semi-finals. After 46 matches, Brive beat Leicester 28–9 in front of a crowd of 41,664 at Cardiff Arms Park, the match watched by an estimated television audience of 35 million in 86 countries.
The season 1997–98 saw the introduction of a home and away format in the pool games. The five pools of four teams, which guaranteed each team a minimum of six games, and the three quarter-final play-off matches all added up to a 70-match tournament. Brive reached the final again but were beaten late in the game by Bath with a penalty kick. Ironically, English clubs had decided to withdraw from the competition in a dispute over the way it was run.
Without English clubs, the 1998–99 tournament revolved around France, Italy and the Celtic nations. Sixteen teams took part in four pools of four. French clubs filled the top positions in three of the groups and for the fourth consecutive year a French club, in the shape of Colomiers from the Toulouse suburbs, reached the final. Despite this it was to be Ulster's year as they beat Toulouse (twice) and reigning French champions Stade Français on their way to the final at Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Ulster then carried home the trophy after a 21–6 win over Colomiers in front of a capacity 49,000 crowd.
English clubs returned in 1999–00. The pool stages were spread over three months to allow the competition to develop alongside the nations' own domestic competitions, and the knockout stages were scheduled to take the tournament into the early spring. For the first time clubs from four different nations – England, Ireland, France and Wales – made it through to the semi-finals. Munster's defeat of Toulouse in Bordeaux ended France's record of having contested every final and Northampton Saints' victory over Llanelli made them the third English club to make it to the final. The competition was decided with a final between Munster and Northampton, with Northampton coming out on top by a single point to claim their first major honour.
England supplied two of the 2000–01 semi-finalists – Leicester Tigers and Gloucester – with Munster and French champions Stade Français also reaching the last four. Both semi-finals were close, Munster going down by a point 16–15 to Stade Français in Lille and the Tigers beating Gloucester 19–15 at Vicarage Road, Watford. The final, at Parc des Princes, Paris, attracted a crowd of 44,000 and the result was in the balance right up until the final whistle, but Leicester walked off 34–30 winners.
Munster reached the 2001–02 final with quarter-final and semi-final victories on French soil against Stade Français and Castres. Leicester pipped Llanelli in the last four, after the Scarlets had halted Leicester's 11-match Heineken Cup winning streak in the pool stages. A record crowd saw Leicester become the first side to successfully defend their title.
From 2002, the European Challenge Cup winner now automatically qualified for the Heineken Cup. Toulouse's victory over French rivals Perpignan in 2003 meant that they joined Leicester as the only teams to win the title twice. Toulouse saw a 19-point half-time lead whittled away as the Catalans staged a dramatic comeback in a match in which the strong wind and showers played a major role, but Toulouse survived to win.
In 2003–04 the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) voted to create regions to play in the Celtic League and represent Wales in European competition. Henceforth, Wales entered regional sides rather than the club sides that had previously competed. English side London Wasps had earned their first final appearance by beating Munster 37–32 in a Dublin semi-final while Toulouse triumphed 19–11 in an all-French contest with Biarritz in a packed Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux. The 2004 final saw Wasps defeat defending champions Toulouse 27–20 at Twickenham to win the Heineken Cup for the first time. The match was widely hailed as one of the best finals. With extra time looming at 20–20, a late opportunist try by scrum half Rob Howley settled the contest.
The tenth Heineken Cup final saw the inaugural champions Toulouse battle with rising stars Stade Français when Murrayfield was the first Scottish venue to host the final. Fabien Galthié's Paris side led until two minutes from the end of normal time before Frédéric Michalak levelled the contest for Toulouse with his first penalty strike. He repeated this in the initial stages of extra time and then sealed his side's success with a superb opportunist drop-goal. Toulouse became the first team to win three Heineken Cup titles.
In 2006, Munster defeated Biarritz in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 23–19. It was third time lucky for the Irish provincial side, who had previously been denied the ultimate prize twice by Northampton and Leicester.
The 2006–07 Heineken Cup would be distributed to over 100 countries following Pitch International's securing of the rights. That season was the first time in the history of the competition that two teams went unbeaten in pool play, with both Llanelli Scarlets and Biarritz doing so. Biarritz went into their final match at Northampton Saints with a chance to become the first team ever to score bonus-point wins in all their pool matches, but were only able to score two of the four tries needed. Leicester defeated Llanelli Scarlets to move into the final at Twickenham, with the possibility of winning a Treble of championships on the cards, having already won the EDF Energy Cup and the Guinness Premiership. However, Wasps won the final 25 points to 9 in front of a tournament record 81,076 fans.
During competition there was uncertainty over the future of the tournament after the 2006–07 season as French clubs had announced that they would not take part because of fixture congestion following the Rugby World Cup and an ongoing dispute between English clubs and the RFU. It was speculated that league two teams might compete the next season, the RFU saying "If this situation is not resolved, the RFU owes it to the sport to keep this competition going...We have spoken to our FDR clubs, and if they want to compete we will support them.". A subsequent meeting led to the announcement that the tournament would be played in 2007–08, with clubs from all the six nations. On 20 May it was announced that both French and English top-tier teams would be competing
In the 2008 final, Munster won the cup for their second time ever by beating Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Leinster won the title in 2009 in their first ever final after beating Munster in the semi-final in front of a then world record Rugby Union club match attendance in Croke Park. They beat the Leicester Tigers in the final at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh. They also beat Harlequins 6–5 in the quarter-finals at Twickenham Stoop, in the famous Bloodgate scandal.
The 16th Heineken Cup tournament in 2011 resulted in an Irish province lifting the title for the fourth time in six years as Leinster recorded their second triumph in the competition. They defeated former multiple Heineken Cup winners Leicester and Toulouse in the quarter- and semi-finals. At the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, in front of 72,000 spectators, Leinster fought back from a 22–6 half-time deficit in the final against Northampton Saints, scoring 27 unanswered points in 26 second-half minutes, winning 33–22 in one of the tournament's greatest comebacks. Jonathan Sexton won the man-of-the-match award, having scored 28 of Leinster's points total, which included two tries, three conversions, and four penalties.
Leinster successfully defended their crown in 2012 at Twickenham, eclipsing fellow Irish province and former champions Ulster 42–14 to establish the highest Heineken Cup final winning margin. The performance broke a number of Heineken Cup Final records. Leinster became only the second team to win back-to-back titles, and the only team ever to win three championships in four years. In addition, the game had the highest attendance at a final (81,774), the highest number of tries (5) and points (42) scored by one team and the highest points difference (28).
The tournament began on 17 October 2014, with Harlequins playing Castres Olympique in the first ever Champions Cup game. Toulon retained their title, beating Clermont 24–18 in a repeat of the 2013 Heineken Cup Final, thereby becoming the first club to win three European titles in a row.
Following the November 2015 Paris attacks, all Round 1 games due to take place in France that weekend were called off, along with the Round 2 fixture between Stade Français and Munster. Rescheduling of some matches was difficult, partly caused by fixture congestion due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
In 2017/2018 season, Leinster overcame the "pool of death" consisting of Glasgow Warriors (who finished the 2017/18 season top of the Guinness Pro14), Montpellier (who finished the 2017/18 season top of the TOP 14) and Exeter (who finished the 2017/18 season top of the Aviva Premiership), beating all three teams both home and away. Leinster went on to face the back to back Champions Saracens, dispatching a defeat at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, to set up a semi-final against reigning Guinness Pro12 champions Scarlets . Leinster defeated Scarlets to face Racing 92 in Champions Cup Final in Bilbao. Leinster defeated Racing 92 by a scoreline of 15 - 12, becoming only the second team in history to earn four European titles. Leinster capped their 2017/18 season off with more silverware, securing the first ever Guinness Pro14 title in a historic double, never before achieved by any Guinness Pro14 team .
A total of 20 teams qualify for the competition, 4 fewer than used to qualify for the Heineken Cup, 19 teams qualify automatically based on position in their respective leagues:
The final team each season qualifies through a play-off competition between the best placed unqualified teams.
For the pool stage there are five pools of four teams. The teams are ranked based on domestic league performance the previous season, and arranged into four tiers of five teams. Teams are then drawn from the tiers into pools at random, with the restriction that no pool shall contain two teams from the same country or league, until the allocation of Tier 4, which contains the sixth English and French teams, the sixth and seventh Pro14 team and the winner of the play-off.
Teams will play the other three teams in the pool twice, at home and away, and match points will be awarded depending on the result of each game, with teams receiving four points for a win, and two for a draw. Teams can also earn bonus points for scoring four or more tries and/or for losing a match by seven points or fewer.
Following the completion of the pool stage, the five pool winners, and the three best pool runners-up qualify for the knock-out stage.
The eight quarter-finalists are seeded – pool winners from 1–5, and runners-up from 6–8 – based on performance in their respective pool. The four pool winners with the best pool record receive home advantage for the quarter-finals against one of the lower-seeded teams. The quarter-final are unbracketed, and follow the standard 1v8, 2v7, 3v6, 4v5 format, as found in the Heineken Cup.
The winners of the quarter-finals will contest the two semi-finals, Up to and including the 2014–15 season, matches and home country advantage were determined by a draw by EPCR.
In 2015–16 EPCR decided to put a new procedure in place. In lieu of the draw that used to determine the semi-final pairing, EPCR announced that a fixed semi-final bracket would be set in advance, and that the home team would be designated based on "performances by clubs during the pool stages as well as the achievement of a winning a quarter-final match away from home". Semi-final matches must be played at a neutral ground in the designated home team's country.
Home country advantage will be awarded to the highest ranked team remaining:
The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, which will be held no later than the first weekend of May each season.
|Match was won during extra time|
|Heineken Cup era|
|1995–96||France||Toulouse||21–18||Cardiff||Wales||Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff||21,800|
|1996–97||France||Brive||28–9||Leicester Tigers||England||Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff||41,664|
|1997–98||England||Bath||19–18||Brive||France||Parc Lescure, Bordeaux||36,500|
|1998–99||Ireland||Ulster||21–6||Colomiers||France||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||49,000|
|1999–00||England||Northampton Saints||9–8||Munster||Ireland||Twickenham, London||68,441|
|2000–01||England||Leicester Tigers||34–30||Stade Français||France||Parc des Princes, Paris||44,000|
|2001–02||England||Leicester Tigers||15–9||Munster||Ireland||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||74,600|
|2002–03||France||Toulouse||22–17||Perpignan||France||Lansdowne Road, Dublin||28,600|
|2003–04||England||London Wasps||27–20||Toulouse||France||Twickenham, London||73,057|
|2004–05||France||Toulouse||18–12||Stade Français||France||Murrayfield, Edinburgh||51,326|
|2005–06||Ireland||Munster||23–19||Biarritz||France||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||74,534|
|2006–07||England||London Wasps||25–9||Leicester Tigers||England||Twickenham, London||81,076|
|2007–08||Ireland||Munster||16–13||Toulouse||France||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||74,500|
|2008–09||Ireland||Leinster||19–16||Leicester Tigers||England||Murrayfield, Edinburgh||66,523|
|2009–10||France||Toulouse||21–19||Biarritz||France||Stade de France, Saint-Denis||78,962|
|2010–11||Ireland||Leinster||33–22||Northampton Saints||England||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||72,456|
|2012–13||France||Toulon||16–15||Clermont||France||Aviva Stadium, Dublin||50,198|
|2013–14||France||Toulon||23–6||Saracens||England||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff||67,586|
|Champions Cup era|
|2015–16||England||Saracens||21–9||Racing 92||France||Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon||58,017|
|2017–18||Ireland||Leinster||15–12||Racing 92||France||San Mamés, Bilbao||52,282|
|2018–19||St James' Park, Newcastle|
|Club||Won||Runner-up||Years won||Years runner-up|
|Toulouse||4||2||1995–96, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2009–10||2003–04, 2007–08|
|Leinster||4||0||2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12, 2017–18|
|Toulon||3||0||2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15|
|Leicester Tigers||2||3||2000–01, 2001–02||1996–97, 2006–07, 2008–09|
|Munster||2||2||2005–06, 2007–08||1999–00, 2001–02|
|Clermont||0||3||2012–13, 2014–15, 2016–17|
|Stade Français||0||2||2000–01, 2004–05|
|Racing 92||0||2||2015–16, 2017–18|
English and French rugby union clubs had long held concerns over the format and structure of the Heineken Cup organised by European Rugby Cup (ERC), predominantly in relation to the distribution of funds and an imbalance in the qualification process. Some proposals had been made that, in future, rather than Ireland, Wales, Scotland and Italy each sending their top-placed teams in the Pro14 to the Heineken Cup, the top teams from the league as a whole should be sent, regardless of nationality. This founding principle was eventually conceded however, when it was agreed that the top-placed teams from the four should participate in the new European competition.
In June 2012, following that year's final, Premiership Rugby and the Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), on behalf of the English and French clubs respectively, gave ERC two years' notice of withdrawing from the Heineken Cup and also the second-tier Challenge Cup competitions from the start of the 2014–15 season. Soon after, in September, Premiership Rugby announced a new four-year TV deal worth £152 million with BT Sport including rights for English clubs’ European games - which had previously been the sole responsibility of ERC. ERC responded with claims that Premiership Rugby did not have the rights to a European tournament and announced a four-year deal with Sky Sports. The actions of Premiership Rugby were said to have "thrown northern hemisphere rugby into disarray".
Subsequently, in September 2013, the English and French clubs announced their intention to organise their own tournament, to be named the Rugby Champions Cup, from 2014–15 season onwards, and invited other European clubs, provinces, and regions to join them. The IRB (now World Rugby) stepped into the debate at the same time to announce its opposition to the creation of a breakaway tournament. In October 2013, Regional Rugby Wales, on behalf of the four Welsh regions, confirmed its full support for the proposed new Rugby Champions Cup. Negotiations for both a new Heineken Cup and Rugby Champions Cup were then ongoing.
On 10 April 2014, following almost two years of negotiations, a statement was released under the aegis of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) announcing that the nine stakeholders to the new competition, the six unions, and three umbrella club organisations (Premiership Rugby, LNR, and Regional Rugby Wales), had signed Heads of Agreement for the formation of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new, third tournament, initially called the Qualifying Competition and now known as the European Rugby Continental Shield. On the same day, BT and Sky announced an agreement that divided coverage of the new European competitions. Both will split the pool matches, quarter-finals, and semi-finals equally, and both will broadcast the final. BT will get first choice of English Premiership club matches in the Champions Cup, with Sky receiving the same privilege for the Challenge Cup.
Shortly after the establishment of European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) to administer the new competition from a new base in Neuchatel, Switzerland, the running of the inaugural 2014–15 tournament was subcontracted to the organisation it had been meant to replace, Dublin-based European Rugby Cup (ERC). This was despite the latter having been described by chairman of Premiership Rugby, Quentin Smith, as "no longer fit for purpose". This was described as "something of an about-turn" by The Daily Telegraph.
EPCR were still looking to hire a permanent chairman and director-general more than a year after their establishment.
The inaugural Champions Cup final was brought forward by three weeks due to a French desire not to interrupt their domestic playoffs. This was said to have "devalued" and "diminished the status of the occasion as the pinnacle of European club rugby".
While the 2015 Heineken Cup final had been due to take place at the San Siro in Milan, the first European final to take place in Italy, the new organisers decided to move it to Twickenham Stadium in London in order to "guarantee the best possible financial return to clubs". However, with less than two weeks to go before the final took place, it was reported that fewer than half of the stadium's 82,000 seats had been sold, with just 8,000 French supporters travelling to London to watch Toulon face Clermont. The organisers subsequently made "free" tickets available on Ticketmaster (with only a £2 booking fee applicable), before admitting to this being a mistake – the offer supposed to have been linked to a purchase of a Premiership final ticket. This was described as an "embarrassing fiasco" by the Western Mail in Wales. 56,622 fans subsequently attended the game. EPCR were said to have "failed on many levels" by The Irish Times, with the attendance figure for the final "a fitting postscript to the hastily-convened decider to what was, after all the brinkmanship, a hastily-convened tournament".
During the creation of the Champions Cup, former organisers ERC had been criticised for "failing to maximise the commercial potential" of the Heineken Cup. New organisers EPCR pledged to move from a single title sponsor format to a Champions League-style partner system, with 2–3 primary partners projected for the inaugural tournament and 5 being the ultimate target. However, only Heineken agreed to sign up for the 2014–15 season, at a much reduced price from that which they had been paying previously.
Note that in the case of career statistics, only those clubs for which each player appeared in European Cup fixtures (i.e. Heineken Cup or Champions Cup) are listed.
|1||Chris Ashton||Northampton Saints, Saracens, Toulon||39|
|4||Dafydd James||Pontypridd, Llanelli, Bridgend, Celtic Warriors, Harlequins, Scarlets||29|
|Tommy Bowe||Ulster, Ospreys||29|
|6||Simon Zebo||Munster, Racing||28|
|10||Geordan Murphy||Leicester Tigers||25|
|Napolioni Nalaga||Clermont Auvergne||25|
|12||Ben Cohen||Northampton Saints, Brive, Sale Sharks||24|
|2||Stephen Jones||Llanelli, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets||869|
|4||Diego Domínguez||Milan, Stade Français||645|
|6||Neil Jenkins||Pontypridd, Cardiff, Celtic Warriors||502|
|7||David Skrela||Colomiers, Stade Français, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne||500|
|8||Dan Parks||Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff Blues, Connacht||479|
|9||Felipe Contepomi||Bristol, Leinster, Toulon||444|
The number of goals includes both penalties and conversions.
|2||Stephen Jones||Llanelli, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets||313|
|4||Diego Domínguez||Milan, Stade Français||231|
|5||Neil Jenkins||Pontypridd, Cardiff, Celtic Warriors||176|
|7||David Skrela||Colomiers, Stade Français, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne||164|
|9||Dan Parks||Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff Blues, Connacht||156|
|10||Jonathan Sexton||Leinster, Racing Métro 92||149|
|Peter Stringer||Munster, Saracens, Bath, Sale||101|
|7||Leo Cullen||Leinster, Leicester Tigers||92|
|8||Benjamin Kayser||Stade Français, Leicester Tigers, Clermont Auvergne||92|
|Nathan Hines||Edinburgh, Perpignan, Leinster, Clermont Auvergne|
|7||(Several players tied)||7|
|1||Diego Domínguez||Stade Français||2000–01||188|
|2||Tim Stimpson||Leicester Tigers||2000–01||152|
The European Player of the Year award was introduced by ERC in 2010. Ronan O'Gara received the inaugural award, being recognised as the best player over the first 15 years of ERC tournaments. Following the creation of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the new organisers, EPCR, continued to award a Player of the Year accolade, with the first going to Nick Abendanon of Clermont Auvergne.
The European Rugby Champions Cup trophy was unveiled in October 2014.
Crafted by Thomas Lyte, the trophy is made of mixed metals including sterling silver and 18ct gold plating. The cup is designed around the idea of the star representing European rugby, including the previous 19 seasons of European rugby, as the Heineken Cup.
The 13.5 kg, five-handled trophy, creates a star shape when viewed from the top, while when viewed from the side, the top of the trophy has a coronet effect, which designers said was to reflect the crowning of the Kings of Europe. The base of the trophy contains the crests of the 10 clubs that won the Heineken Cup, to further reinforce the link between the old and new European competitions
EPCR was criticised for forcing U.K. and Irish fans beginning in 2015 to subscribe to two pay-TV companies, Sky Sports and BT Sport, if they wanted to follow their teams throughout the Champions Cup. Coverage was split between the two in order to raise revenues, but this was said to have "diluted the focus and reduced the buzz around the event".
This lists the average attendances for each season's European Cup competition, as well as the total attendance and highest attendance for that season. The final is typically the most-attended match, as it is generally held in a larger stadium than any club's home venue.
The 2009 final held at Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh was only the third most-attended match that season. The most-attended match was a semi-final between Irish rivals Leinster and Munster played in Croke Park in Dublin. The attendance of 82,208 set what was then a world record for a club match in the sport's history. Second on that season's list was a pool match between Stade Français and Harlequins that drew 76,569 to Stade de France in Paris (a venue that Stade Français has used for select home matches since 2005).
While the 2010–11 tournament's highest attended match was unsurprisingly the final, the second-highest attended match was notable in that it was held in Spain. Perpignan hosted Toulon in a quarter-final before a sellout crowd of 55,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain.
The 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup was the first season of the European Rugby Champions Cup (20th overall), the annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby, and the 20th season of professional European rugby union in total. It replaced the Heineken Cup as Europe's top-tier competition for rugby clubs. The competition got underway on the weekend of 17 October 2014 with the first round of the pool stage, and ended with the final on 2 May 2015 at Twickenham Stadium, London, England.Toulon were the champions having beaten Clermont 24–18 in a repeat of the 2013 Heineken Cup Final. Toulon retained their title for the second consecutive year, the first team to win three European titles in a row.2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage
The 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage was the first stage of the 20th season of European club rugby union, and the first to be organised under the new European Rugby Champions Cup format, which replaced the Heineken Cup as the top European competition for clubs.
It involved 20 teams competing, across 5 pools of 4 teams, for 8 quarter-final places – which were awarded to the 5 pool winners and the 3 top-ranked pool runners-up.
The pool stage began on the weekend of 17–19 October 2014, and was completed on the weekend of 23–25 January 2015.2014–15 European Rugby Champions–Challenge Cup play-offs
The 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup-Challenge Cup play-off was the first play-off for entry into the top level competition of European Club rugby union, the European Rugby Champions Cup.
In March 2014, following the announcement of new European club competitions, the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup, it was announced that the final place in the Champions Cup competition would be awarded by a play-off.
For the 2014–15 season, this was a two-legged play-off between the seventh placed teams from the 2013–14 Aviva Premiership season, and the 2013–14 Top 14 season. Following the completion of both legs, the team with the highest aggregate score took the twentieth berth in the 2014–15 European Rugby Champions Cup, the new top tier competition, while the loser will play in the second tier 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup.2015 European Rugby Champions Cup Final
The 2015 European Rugby Champions Cup Final was the final match in the first European Rugby Champions Cup, and the twentieth European club rugby final in general, as the competition replaces the Heineken Cup.
The final was played between the French clubs Clermont and Toulon at Twickenham Stadium on 2 May 2015.
Toulon won the final, beating Clermont by 24 points to 18.
This was the third successive win by Toulon of the top European club rugby competition.2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup
The 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup was the second European Rugby Champions Cup championship (21st overall), the annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby. The European Rugby Champions Cup replaced the Heineken Cup, which was Europe's top-tier competition for rugby clubs for the first nineteen years of professional European rugby union.As a result of the 2015 Rugby World Cup being held in England, the tournament started slightly later than in previous seasons, with the opening round taking place on the weekend of 13/14/15 November 2015. The tournament was won for the first time by Saracens who beat Racing 92 in the final on the 14 May 2016, at Parc Olympique Lyonnais (called "Grand Stade de Lyon" by competition organiser European Professional Club Rugby) in the Lyon suburb of Décines.2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage
The 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage was the first stage of the 21st season of European club rugby union, and the second under the European Rugby Champions Cup format.
It involved 20 teams competing, across 5 pools of 4 teams, for 8 quarter-final places – awarded to the 5 pool winners and the 3 top-ranked pool runners-up.
The pool stage began on the weekend of 13 November 2015 but several games were postponed following the November 2015 Paris attacks. It was completed on the weekend of 23–25 January 2016.2015–16 European Rugby Champions–Challenge Cup play-offs
The 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup-Challenge Cup play-off was the second play-off for entry into the top level competition of European Club rugby union, the European Rugby Champions Cup.2016 European Rugby Champions Cup Final
The 2016 European Rugby Champions Cup Final was the final match in the 2015–16 European Rugby Champions Cup, and the twenty-first European club rugby final in general. It was contested by French side Racing 92, and Saracens of England, at the Grand Stade de Lyon, in the Lyon suburb of Décines, France, on Saturday 14 May 2016.
Saracens defeated Racing 92 by 21 points to 9. This was Saracens first European Cup win, making them the first new champions since Toulon, whose first victory in what was then known as the Heineken Cup came in 2013.2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup
The 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup was the third European Rugby Champions Cup championship (22nd overall), the annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby. The competition replaced the Heineken Cup, which was Europe's top-tier competition for rugby clubs for the first nineteen years of professional European rugby union. The opening round of the tournament took place on the weekend of 14/15/16 October 2016. The final took place on 13 May 2017 at Murrayfield in Edinburgh.English side Saracens were the 2015–16 champions, having beaten Racing 92 of France in the 2016 final in Lyon.
Saracens retained the cup, defeating Clermont in the final 28–17.2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage
The 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage was the first stage of the 22nd season of European club rugby union, and the third under the European Rugby Champions Cup format.
It involved 20 teams competing, across 5 pools of 4 teams, for 8 quarter-final places – awarded to the 5 pool winners and the 3 top-ranked pool runners-up.
The pool stage began on the weekend of 14–16 October 2016, and ended following Round 6, on the weekend of 23–25 January 2017.2017 European Rugby Champions Cup Final
The 2017 European Rugby Champions Cup Final was the final match in the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup, and the twenty-second European club rugby final in general. It was contested by defending champions Saracens of England and French side Clermont at Murrayfield Stadium, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on Saturday 13 May 2017.
Saracens retained the trophy after claiming a 28–17 victory.2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup
The 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup was the fourth European Rugby Champions Cup championship (23rd overall), the annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby and was the twenty-third season of pan-European professional club rugby competition.
The format of the competition began with a play-off qualification round at the end of the preceding season featuring teams from England, France, Ireland and Wales. The winner joined 19 teams already qualified by way of their domestic league position in the pool stage of the competition - a home and away round-robin for five groups of four teams. Following the pool stage, five pool winners, and three highest ranked runners-up, qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition, as the Cup thereafter reverted to a single elimination knockout format.
The tournament began on 13 October 2017. The final was won by Leinster on 12 May 2018 at San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao, Spain. This was Leinster's fourth title, tying the record for the most successful team in the competition's history. This was the first time the final was held outside one of the Six Nations countries.2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage
The 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup pool stage is the first stage of the 23rd season of European club rugby union, and the fourth under the European Rugby Champions Cup format.
The competition involves twenty teams, across five pools of four teams, for eight quarter-final places – awarded to the five pool winners and the three top-ranked pool runners-up.
The pool stage began on the weekend of 13–15 October 2017, and ended following round 6, on the weekend of 19–21 January 2018.2017–18 European Rugby Champions–Challenge Cup play-offs
The 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup-Challenge Cup play-off was the third play-off for entry into the top level competition of European Club rugby union, the European Rugby Champions Cup.2018 European Rugby Champions Cup Final
The 2018 European Rugby Champions Cup Final was the final match in the 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup, and the twenty-third European club rugby final in general.
Irish club Leinster defeated French club Racing 92 in the final played in Bilbao, Spain — the first time it was contested outside one of the Six Nations countries.2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup
The 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is the fifth season of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the annual club rugby union competition run by European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR) for teams from the top six nations in Europe. It is the 24th season of pan-European professional club rugby competition. This competition will be the first to be sponsored by Heineken since the 2013–14 season.
The tournament started on 12 October 2018. The final, featuring the last two winners of the event, Saracens and Leinster, will take place on 11 May 2019 at St James' Park in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.2019 European Rugby Champions Cup Final
The 2019 European Rugby Champions Cup Final will be the final match in the 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup, and the twenty-fourth European club rugby final in general.2019–20 European Rugby Champions Cup
The 2019–20 European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is the sixth season of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the annual club rugby union competition run by European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR) for teams from the top six nations in European rugby. It will be the 25th season of pan-European professional club rugby competition.
The tournament will begin in November 2019. The final will take place on 23 May 2020 at Stade de Marseille in Marseille, France.List of European Rugby Champions Cup finals
The European Rugby Champions Cup is an annual rugby union competition for European clubs whose countries compete in the Six Nations Championship. Introduced in 2014, the competition replaced the Heineken Cup, which had been run by European Rugby Cup (ERC) since 1995, following disagreements between its shareholders over the structure and governance of the competition.
It is organised by European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), with teams qualifying via their final positions in their respective national/cross-border leagues (Premiership, Top 14, and Pro14). The winners of the first final were French team Toulouse, who beat Welsh side Cardiff 21–18 after extra time. Irish side Leinster are the current champions, having beaten French team Racing 92 15–12 in the 2018 final in Bilbao.20 teams initially compete in five separate pools. The top eight teams from the pools progress to the knockout stage. If the score in a knockout match is a draw after 80 minutes of regular play, an additional 20-minute period of play, called extra time, is added. If the score remains tied, an additional 10 minutes of sudden-death extra time are played, with the first team to score points immediately declared the winner. If no team is able to break the tie during extra time, the winner is ultimately decided by a penalty shootout. As well as the first final, the 2005 final between French teams Toulouse and Stade Français went to extra time, which Toulouse won 18–12.Toulouse and Leinster are the most successful teams in the history of the tournament, with four wins each. Toulon are second with three wins. Toulon are the only team to have won three consecutive tournaments, from 2013 to 2015. Three teams have played in more than one final and failed to win any of them—Clermont three times, Racing 92, Stade Français and Biarritz twice. No teams from Scotland and Italy have progressed to the final.
The 2017–18 final was held in Bilbao, marking the first time that the final was contested in a country without a team participating in the competition. The 2018–19 final will be held in Newcastle and the 2019-20 final will be held in Marseille.
European Rugby Champions Cup
Top-level rugby union club competitions
|Tier 1 nations|
European sports club competitions