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The European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup
is an annual rugby union tournament organised by European Professional Club Rugby
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 Champions Cup via their final positions in their respective national/regional leagues (Premiership, Top 14, and 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. Introduced in 2014, the competition replaced the Heineken
Heineken
Cup, which had run since 1995, following disagreements between its shareholders over the structure and governance of the competition. Saracens are the current holders of the cup, having won their first cup by beating Racing 92
Racing 92
in the 2016 final and defended their title by beating Clermont in the 2017 final. Toulouse have won the competition a record four times, the last of which was in 2010.[1]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Heineken
Heineken
Cup

1.1.1 1995–2014 1.1.2 1999–2004 1.1.3 2005–2014

1.2 Champions Cup

1.2.1 2014–present

2 Format

2.1 Qualification

2.1.1 20th team play-off

2.2 Competition

2.2.1 Group stage 2.2.2 Knock-out stage

3 Finals

3.1 Wins by club 3.2 Wins by nation

4 Controversy

4.1 Disagreements over structure & governance 4.2 Organisation 4.3 2015 final

5 Sponsorship and suppliers

5.1 Sponsors

5.1.1 Principal Partners

5.2 Suppliers

6 Player records

6.1 Career records

6.1.1 Tries 6.1.2 Points 6.1.3 Goals 6.1.4 Appearances

6.2 Single season records

6.2.1 Tries 6.2.2 Points

6.3 European Player of the Year

7 Trophy 8 Media coverage 9 Attendance 10 See also 11 References 12 External links

History[edit] Heineken
Heineken
Cup[edit] 1995–2014[edit]

The Heineken
Heineken
Cup logo used until 2013

The Heineken
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.[2] Twelve sides representing Ireland, Wales, Italy, Romania and France
France
competed in four pools of three with the group winners going directly into the semi-finals.[3] English and Scottish teams did not take part in the inaugural competition.[4] 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
Cardiff
in extra time in front of a crowd of 21,800 at Cardiff
Cardiff
Arms Park.[3] Clubs from England
England
and Scotland
Scotland
joined the competition in 1996–97.[5] European rugby was further expanded with the advent of the European Challenge Cup
European Challenge Cup
for teams that did not qualify for the Heineken
Heineken
Cup. The Heineken
Heineken
Cup now had 20 teams divided into four pools of five.[6] Only Leicester and Brive reached the knock-out stages with 100 per cent records and ultimately made it to the final, Cardiff
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.[6] The season 1997–98 saw the introduction of a home and away format in the pool games.[7] 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.[4] Without English clubs, the 1998–99 tournament revolved around France, Italy
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
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.[7] 1999–2004[edit] 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
Wales
– made it through to the semi-finals. Munster's defeat of Toulouse in Bordeaux
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.[5] England
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
Stade Français
in Lille
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
Stade Français
and Castres. Leicester pipped Llanelli in the last four, after the Scarlets
Scarlets
had halted Leicester's 11-match Heineken
Heineken
Cup winning streak in the pool stages. A record crowd saw Leicester become the first side to successfully defend their title.[2] From 2002, the European Challenge Cup
European Challenge Cup
winner now automatically qualified for the Heineken
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.[2] 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
Welsh Rugby Union
(WRU) voted to create regions to play in the Celtic League and represent Wales
Wales
in European competition. Henceforth, Wales
Wales
entered regional sides rather than the club sides that had previously competed. English side London
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 Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux. The 2004 final saw Wasps defeat defending champions Toulouse 27–20 at Twickenham to win the Heineken
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. 2005–2014[edit]

Munster fans watch their team on a jumbo screen on the streets of Limerick. Munster won the 2005–06 Cup and were runners-up twice before.

The tenth Heineken
Heineken
Cup final saw the inaugural champions Toulouse battle with rising stars Stade Français
Stade Français
when Murrayfield was the first Scottish venue to host the final.[8] Fabien Galthié's Paris side led until two minutes from the end of normal time before Frédéric Michalak
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
Heineken
Cup titles.[8] In 2006, Munster defeated Biarritz in the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, 23–19.[9] It was third time lucky for the Irish provincial side, who had previously been denied the ultimate prize twice by Northampton and Leicester.

London
London
Wasps celebrate after winning the 2006–07 Heineken
Heineken
Cup

The 2006–07 Heineken Cup
2006–07 Heineken Cup
would be distributed to over 100 countries following Pitch International's securing of the rights.[10] That season was the first time in the history of the competition that two teams went unbeaten in pool play, with both Llanelli Scarlets
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
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.[11] 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
Rugby World Cup
and an ongoing dispute between English clubs and the RFU.[12][13] 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.".[14] 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[15] In the 2008 final, Munster won the cup for their second time ever by beating Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium
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
Leicester Tigers
in the final at Murrayfield Stadium
Murrayfield Stadium
in Edinburgh. They also beat Harlequins 6–5 in the quarter finals at Twickenham Stoop, in the famous Bloodgate scandal. In the 2010 final, Toulouse defeated Biarritz Olympique
Biarritz Olympique
in the Stade de France
France
to claim their fourth title, a Heineken
Heineken
Cup record. The 16th Heineken
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
Heineken
Cup winners Leicester and Toulouse in the quarter and semi finals. At the Millennium Stadium
Millennium Stadium
in Cardiff, in front of 72,000 spectators,[16] 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
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
Heineken
Cup final winning margin. The performance broke a number of Heineken
Heineken
Cup Final records.[17] 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 final edition of the tournament as constituted as the Heineken
Heineken
Cup was won for a second time by Toulon at the Millennium Stadium
Millennium Stadium
in Cardiff
Cardiff
in May 2014. Champions Cup[edit] 2014–present[edit] The tournament began on 17 October 2014, with Harlequins playing Castres Olympique
Castres Olympique
in the first ever Champions Cup game. Toulon retained their title, beating Clermont 24–18 in a repeat of the 2013 Heineken
Heineken
Cup Final, thereby becoming the first club to win three European titles in a row.[18] Following the November 2015 Paris
Paris
attacks, all round-one games due to take place in France
France
that weekend were called off, along with the round-two fixture between Stade Français
Stade Français
and Munster.[19][20] Rescheduling of some matches was difficult, partly caused by fixture congestion due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.[21][22][23] Format[edit] Qualification[edit] A total of 20 teams qualify for the competition, 4 fewer than used to qualify for the Heineken
Heineken
Cup, 19 teams qualify automatically based on position in their respective leagues:

England: 6 teams, based on position in the English Premiership France: 6 teams, based on position in the Top 14 Ireland, Italy, Scotland
Scotland
and Wales: 7 teams, based on performance in the Pro14

From 2014–17, the best placed team from each country in the Pro14 qualified for the competition, along with the best three remaining teams regardless of nationality In 2017, it was announced that this format would change.[24] Starting with qualification for the 2018–19 competition, the seven Pro14 places will all be assigned regardless of nationality, rather than the requirement that at least one team qualify from each participating nation.

20th team play-off[edit] The final team each season qualifies through a play-off competition between the best placed unqualified teams.

For the 2014–15 season, this was a two legged play-off between the 7th placed teams in the Top 14
Top 14
and the English Premiership. The team with the highest aggregate score over the two legs advancing to the Champions Cup. For the 2015–16 season, there was a three-team play-off; the 7th-placed team in the English Premiership, or the winners of the 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup
European Rugby Challenge Cup
if members of the English Premiership and not already qualified, would play the 8th-placed (or highest non-qualified) team from the Pro14, with the winner playing the 7th-placed team in the Top 14. To facilitate Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup
2015, there were no play-offs for the 2016–17 Champions Cup with the 20th place going to the winner of the 2016 Challenge Cup if not already qualified. For 2017–18, the play-off format will include four clubs with a second Pro14
Pro14
club competing. If not already qualified, the winner of the Challenge Cup will take the place in the play-offs of the 7th-ranked club in the Aviva Premiership and Top 14, and will also take the place of the second Pro14
Pro14
club if applicable.[25] In May 2017, it was announced that, starting with qualification for the 2018–19 Champions Cup, the play-off will be scrapped in favour of awarding the berth using the following criteria:[24][25]

Champions Cup winner, if not already qualified. European Rugby Challenge Cup
European Rugby Challenge Cup
winner, if not already qualified. Challenge Cup losing finalist, if not already qualified. Challenge Cup semi-finalist, if one has not already qualified (or the winner of a play-off between the semi-finalists, if both have not already qualified). Highest ranked non-qualified club by virtue of league position from the same league as the Champions Cup winner.

Competition[edit] Group stage[edit] 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 6th English and French teams, the 6th and 7th Pro14
Pro14
team and the winner of the play-off.[26] 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 1 try bonus point for scoring four or more tries, and 1 losing bonus point for losing a match by seven points or fewer.[27] Following the completion of the pool stage, the five pool winners, and the three best pool runners-up qualify for the knock-out stage.[28] Knock-out stage[edit] 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
Heineken
Cup.[27] 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 as follows:[27]

Winner QF 1 Winner QF 2 Semi-Final (Home v Away)

1 4 1 v 4

1 5 5 v 1

8 4 8 v 4

8 5 5 v 8

Winner QF 3 Winner QF 4 Semi-Final (Home v Away)

3 2 2 v 3

3 7 7 v 3

6 2 6 v 2

6 7 6 v 7

The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, which will be held no later than the first weekend of May each season.[29] Finals[edit] Main article: List of European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup
finals

Key

Match was won during extra time

Heineken
Heineken
Cup era

Season Country Winners Score Runners-up Country Venue Attendance

1995–96  France Toulouse 21–18 Cardiff  Wales Cardiff
Cardiff
Arms Park, Cardiff 21,800

1996–97  France Brive 28–9 Leicester Tigers  England Cardiff
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
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
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

2011–12 Ireland Leinster 42–14 Ulster Ireland Twickenham, London 81,774

2012–13  France Toulon 16–15 Clermont  France Aviva Stadium, Dublin 50,198

2013–14  France Toulon 24–12 Saracens  England Millennium Stadium, Cardiff 67,586

Champions Cup era

Season Country Winners Score Runners-up Country Venue Attendance

2014–15  France Toulon 24–18 Clermont  France Twickenham, London 56,622

2015–16  England Saracens 21–9 Racing 92  France Parc Olympique Lyonnais, Lyon 58,017

2016–17  England Saracens 28–17 Clermont  France Murrayfield, Edinburgh 55,272

2017–18

San Mamés, Bilbao

2018–19

St James' Park, Newcastle

Wins by club[edit]

Club Won Runner-up Years won Years runner-up

Toulouse 4 2 1995–96, 2002–03, 2004–05, 2009–10 2003–04, 2007–08

Toulon 3 0 2012–13, 2013–14, 2014–15

Leinster 3 0 2008–09, 2010–11, 2011–12

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

Saracens 2 1 2015–16, 2016–17 2013–14

London
London
Wasps 2 0 2003–04, 2006–07

Brive 1 1 1996–97 1997–98

Northampton Saints 1 1 1999–00 2010–11

Ulster 1 1 1998–99 2011–12

Bath 1 0 1997–98

Clermont 0 3

2012–13, 2014–15, 2016–17

Biarritz 0 2

2005–06, 2009–10

Stade Français 0 2

2000–01, 2004–05

Cardiff 0 1

1995–96

Colomiers 0 1

1998–99

Perpignan 0 1

2002–03

Racing 92 0 1

2015–16

Wins by nation[edit]

Nation Winners Runners-up

France 8 13

England 8 5

Ireland 6 3

Wales 0 1

Controversy[edit] Disagreements over structure & governance[edit] English and French rugby union clubs had long held concerns over the format and structure of the Heineken
Heineken
Cup organised by European Rugby Cup (ERC), predominantly in relation to the distribution of funds and an imbalance in the qualification process.[30] Some proposals had been made that, in future, rather than Ireland, Wales, Scotland
Scotland
and Italy each sending their top-placed teams in the Pro14
Pro14
to the Heineken
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.[31] In June 2012, following that year's final, Premiership Rugby
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
Heineken
Cup and also the second-tier Challenge Cup competitions from the start of the 2014–15 season.[32] Soon after, in September, Premiership Rugby
Premiership Rugby
announced a new four-year TV deal worth £152m with BT Sport
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
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
Premiership Rugby
were said to have "thrown northern hemisphere rugby into disarray".[33] 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.[34] In October 2013, Regional Rugby Wales, on behalf of the four Welsh regions, confirmed its full support for the proposed new Rugby Champions Cup.[35] Negotiations for both a new Heineken
Heineken
Cup and Rugby Champions Cup were then ongoing.[36] 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
European Rugby Challenge Cup
and a new, third tournament, initially called the Qualifying Competition and now known as the European Rugby Continental Shield.[37][38] 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.[39] Premiership Rugby
Premiership Rugby
and LNR were described as having employed "bully-boy tactics" by The Irish Times.[40] Organisation[edit] 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
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.[41] EPCR were still looking to hire a permanent chairman and director-general more than a year after their establishment.[42] 2015 final[edit] 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".[40][42] While the 2015 Heineken
Heineken
Cup final had been due to take place at the San Siro
San Siro
in Milan, the first European final to take place in Italy, the new organisers decided to move it to Twickenham Stadium
Twickenham Stadium
in London in order to "guarantee the best possible financial return to clubs".[42] 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
London
to watch Toulon face Clermont.[43] 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.[42][44] 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".[40] Sponsorship and suppliers[edit] Sponsors[edit] During the creation of the Champions Cup, former organisers ERC had been criticised for "failing to maximise the commercial potential" of the Heineken
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
Heineken
agreed to sign up for the 2014–15 season, at a much reduced price from that which they had been paying previously.[40][42] Principal Partners[edit]

Heineken
Heineken
(1995–)

Heineken, who had sponsored the Heineken
Heineken
Cup since 1995, signed on as the first partner for the Champions Cup in 2014, and were credited as the Founding Partner of European Rugby

Turkish Airlines
Turkish Airlines
(2015–)

Announced as the second principal partner at the 2015–16 tournament launch, signing on for three seasons[45]

Suppliers[edit]

Webb Ellis - Match Balls & Officials kit (2003–2009) Adidas
Adidas
- Match Balls & Officials kit (2009–2014) Gilbert – Match Balls (1998-2002; 2014–) Canterbury of New Zealand
Canterbury of New Zealand
– Match Officials Kit (2014–) Tissot
Tissot
– Official Watch & Timekeeper (2015-)

Following their appointment as an Official Supplier, Tissot
Tissot
began sponsoring the Match Officials kit.

Player records[edit] Note that in the case of career statistics, only those clubs for which each player appeared in European Cup fixtures (i.e. Heineken
Heineken
Cup or Champions Cup) are listed. Career records[edit] Tries[edit] See also: EPCR Elite Awards: Players with 25 or more European Cup tries

Rank Player[46] Club(s) Tries

1 Chris Ashton Northampton Saints, Saracens, Toulon 37

2 Vincent Clerc Toulouse 36

3 Brian O'Driscoll Leinster 33

4 Dafydd James Pontypridd, Llanelli, Bridgend, Celtic Warriors, Harlequins, Scarlets 29

5 Shane Horgan Leinster 27

6 Gordon D'Arcy Leinster 26

7 Geordan Murphy Leicester Tigers 25

Napolioni Nalaga Clermont Auvergne

Tommy Bowe Ulster, Ospreys

11 Ben Cohen Northampton Saints, Brive, Sale Sharks 24

Michel Marfaing Toulouse

Players in BOLD still playing for an EPRC qualified team.

Points[edit] See also: EPCR Elite Awards: Players with 500 or more European Cup points

Rank Player[47] Club(s) Points

1 Ronan O'Gara Munster 1365

2 Stephen Jones Llanelli, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets 869

3 Dimitri Yachvili Biarritz 661

4 Diego Domínguez Milan, Stade Français 645

5 David Humphreys Ulster 564

6 Neil Jenkins Pontypridd, Cardiff, Celtic Warriors 502

7 David Skrela Colomiers, Stade Français, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne 500

8 Dan Parks Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff
Cardiff
Blues, Connacht 479

9 Felipe Contepomi Bristol, Leinster, Toulon 444

10 Jean-Baptiste Élissalde Toulouse 441

Goals[edit] The number of goals includes both penalties and conversions.

Rank Player[48] Club(s) Goals

1 Ronan O'Gara Munster 488

2 Stephen Jones Llanelli, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets 313

3 Dimitri Yachvili Biarritz 235

4 Diego Domínguez Milan, Stade Français 231

5 Neil Jenkins Pontypridd, Cardiff, Celtic Warriors 176

6 Jean-Baptiste Élissalde Toulouse 165

7 David Skrela Colomiers, Stade Français, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne 164

8 David Humphreys Ulster 161

9 Dan Parks Glasgow Warriors, Cardiff
Cardiff
Blues, Connacht 156

10 Jonathan Sexton Leinster, Racing Métro 92 149

Appearances[edit] See also: EPCR Elite Awards: Players with 50 or more European Cup appearances

Rank Player[49] Club(s) Games

1 Ronan O'Gara Munster 110

2 John Hayes Munster 101

3 Gordon D'Arcy Leinster 100

4 Donncha O'Callaghan Munster 96

5 Peter Stringer Munster, Saracens 94

6 Leo Cullen Leinster, Leicester Tigers 92

7 Shane Horgan Leinster 87

Brian O'Driscoll Leinster

Clément Poitrenaud Toulouse

10 Anthony Foley Munster 86

David Wallace[50] Munster

Single season records[edit] Tries[edit]

Rank Player Club Season Tries

1 Chris Ashton Saracens 2013–14[51] 11

2 Sébastien Carrat Brive 1996–97[52] 10

3 Matthew Robinson Swansea 2000–01[53] 9

4 Shane Horgan Leinster 2004–05[54] 8

Timoci Matanavou Toulouse 2011–12[55]

Napolioni Nalaga Clermont 2012–13[56]

7 (Several players tied) 7

Points[edit]

Rank Player Club Season Points

1 Diego Domínguez Stade Français 2000–01[57] 188

2 Tim Stimpson Leicester Tigers 2000–01[57] 152

3 Simon Mason Ulster 1998–99[58] 144

4 Jonathan Sexton Leinster 2010–11[59] 138

5 Lee Jarvis Cardiff 1997–98[60] 134

6 Ronan O'Gara Munster 1999–00[61] 131

7 Jonathan Callard Bath 1997–98[60] 129

Felipe Contepomi Leinster 2005–06[62]

Ronan O'Gara Munster 2001–02[63]

10 Ronan O'Gara Munster 2000–01[57] 127

European Player of the Year[edit] The European Player of the Year award was introduced by ERC in 2010. Ronan O'Gara
Ronan O'Gara
received the inaugural award, being recognised as the best player over the first 15 years of ERC tournaments.[64] 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
Nick Abendanon
of Clermont Auvergne.

2010 — Ronan O'Gara
Ronan O'Gara
( Munster) 2011 — Sean O'Brien ( Leinster) 2012 — Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney
( Leinster) 2013 — Jonny Wilkinson
Jonny Wilkinson
( Toulon) 2014 — Steffon Armitage
Steffon Armitage
( Toulon) 2015 — Nick Abendanon
Nick Abendanon
( Clermont Auvergne) 2016 — Maro Itoje
Maro Itoje
( Saracens) 2017 — Owen Farrell
Owen Farrell
( Saracens)

Trophy[edit] The European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup
trophy was unveiled in October 2014.[65] Crafted by Thomas Lyte,[66] 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
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
Heineken
Cup, to further reinforce the link between the old and new European competitions[67] Media coverage[edit]

European markets:

France: beIN Sports, France
France
Télévisions [68][69] Germany: DAZN Italy: Sky Italia[70] Portugal: SportTV Romania: Digi Sport Spain: Movistar+ United Kingdom & Ireland:

TV: BT Sport
BT Sport
& Sky Sports[71] Radio: BBC Radio, RTÉ & Newstalk[72]

Other markets:

Asia Pacific: Setanta Sports Australia: beIN Sports Brazil: ESPN+ Canada: Sportsnet World, TVA Sports South Africa: Supersport (selected matches) United States: NBC Sports[73]

EPCR was criticised for forcing U.K. and Irish fans beginning in 2015 to subscribe to two pay-TV companies, Sky Sports
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".[42] Attendance[edit] 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 highest attended match of the 2002–03 competition was a quarterfinal between Leinster and Biarritz before 46,000 fans at Landsdowne Road
Landsdowne Road
in Dublin. The 2009 final held at Murrayfield Stadium
Murrayfield Stadium
in Edinburgh
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.[74] Second on that season's list was a pool match between Stade Français
Stade Français
and Harlequins that drew 76,569 to Stade de France
France
in Paris
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 quarterfinal before a sellout crowd of 55,000 at the Olympic Stadium in Barcelona, Spain.

Season Total Average Highest

1995–96 97,535 6,502 21,800

1996–97 317,987 6,765 41,664

1997–98 462,958 6,613 36,500

1998–99 322,340 5,860 49,000

1999–00 626,065 7,924 68,441

2000–01 646,834 8,187 44,000

2001–02 656,382 8,308 74,600

2002–03 704,782 8,921 46,000

2003–04 817,833 10,352 73,057

2004–05 918,039 11,620 51,326

2005–06 964,863 12,370 74,534

2006–07 914,048 11,570 81,076

2007–08 942,373 11,928 74,417

2008–09 1,177,064 14,900 82,208

2009–10 1,080,598 13,678 78,962

2010–11 1,139,427 14,423 72,456

2011–12 1,172,127 14,837 81,774

2012–13 1,063,218 13,458 50,148

2013–14 1,127,926 14,278 67,578

2014–15 985,717 14,712 56,622

2015–16 955,647 14,263 58,017

2016–17 1,018,026 15,194 55,272

See also[edit]

Rugby union
Rugby union
portal

List of European Rugby Champions Cup
European Rugby Champions Cup
finals European Rugby Challenge Cup Premiership (England) Pro14
Pro14
(Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales) Top 14
Top 14
(France)

References[edit]

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European Rugby Champions Cup
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Heineken
cup and pledge to go it alone". The Daily Mail. London. Retrieved 1 October 2013.  ^ Thomas, Simon (14 September 2012). "Analysis: Does English TV deal spell end of Heineken
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Cup?".  ^ "Anglo-French breakaway plan from rugby Heineken
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Cup not ideal: IRB chief Brett Gosper".  ^ "Welsh regions support Champions Cup". ESPN Scrum. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.  ^ "Background to the European rugby dispute". BBC Sport. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 23 October 2013.  ^ http://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/featured-post/15722/european-rugby-statement/ European Rugby Statement, The Rugby Paper 10/4/14 ^ "New identity for the Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition" (Press release). European Professional Club Rugby. 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.  ^ "BT and Sky sign joint agreement over European rugby". ESPN Scrum. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 10 April 2014.  ^ a b c d "European Cup's unique sense of occasion wins out despite final flaws".  ^ " European Rugby Cup
European Rugby Cup
officials seconded to run the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup".  ^ a b c d e f Thomas, Simon (28 April 2015). "Has rugby's new Europe actually worked?".  ^ Kitson, Robert (20 April 2015). "European Champions Cup organisers fear half-empty Twickenham final" – via The Guardian.  ^ "Free Champions Cup final ticket offer a mistake, claim organisers - SportsJOE.ie".  ^ " European Professional Club Rugby
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(EPCR)".  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Try
Try
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Cup: Points Scorers". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Goal Kickers". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Try
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Cup: Try
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Cup: Points Scorers 2000-01". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Points Scorers 1998-99". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Points Scorers 2010-11". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ a b " Heineken
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Cup: Points Scorers 1997-98". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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Cup: Points Scorers 1999-00". ERC. Retrieved 25 May 2014.  ^ " Heineken
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