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.
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 for the competition will be determined by the finishing position teams have in their respective league competitions.
In 2014 the qualifier was determined by a play-off between the 7th placed teams from the Premiership and the Top 14. Those games were played in May 2014.
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. Those games were played in May 2015.
In 2016, due to the Rugby World Cup the previous year, no qualifying play-offs had been played so the winner of the 2015/16 European Rugby Challenge Cup automatically qualified for the tournament.
In 2017 the qualifier selection returned to the 4 team play-off described above.