European Rugby Champions Cup

The European Rugby Champions Cup is the premier club rugby competition in Europe. It replaced the Heineken Cup in 2014 and is organised by European Professional Club Rugby.

The competition came about following concerns held by English and French clubs about the Heineken Cup and the way it was structured. These concerns were mainly around the way funds were distributed and inequities in the qualification process.

In April 2014, the EPCR announced the new competition, along with a new European Rugby Challenge Cup and a new qualifying competition.

Format

The European Rugby Champions Cup will have 20 teams playing in 5 pools of 4 teams. They will play other teams in their pool twice, on a home and away basis. The pool winners and the 3 best runners-up will then progress to the play-offs, which will be quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.

Qualification

Qualification for the competition will be determined by the finishing position teams have in their respective league competitions.

  • England - the top 6 teams from the Premiership.
  • France - the top 6 teams from the Top 14.
  • Ireland, Wales, Scotland, Italy - the top 7 teams based on the Pro 12. The best placed team from each country will qualify, with the 3 next best placed teams making up the rest.
  • The 20th team will be a qualifier from a 4 team play-off involving the 7th placed teams from the Premiership & the Top 14, and the 8th and 9th placed teams in the Pro 12. (2014)

In this play-off, the winner of the European Rugby Challenge Cup will get one of the positions if they have not already qualified through their league position.

In 2015 the qualifier was determined by a play-off between the winner of the 2014 Challenge Cup and the highest placed Pro 12 team not already qualified, followed by the winner of that game playing off against the 7th placed team from the Top 14.