Print Friendly, PDF & Email

An exciting new season of European Rugby action kicked off at the European launch in Dublin today (Mon 6 Oct) heralding the 20th year of high profile European Rugby contests.

Widely considered as the pinnacle of world club rugby, the new tournament formats span the six nations of England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and Italy featuring elite clubs from the three leading leagues in Europe.  It will also provide new opportunities for rugby nations such as Romania and Georgia to ultimately compete at the highest level of the club game. The new competitions will be watched and enjoyed by rugby fans all over the world with new television and digital distribution deals bringing the games into more than 100 countries.

The Welsh Regions were represented by Head Coaches and senior international players from the Ospreys and Scarlets along with Regional Rugby Wales CEO and EPCR Board Member Mark Davies.

Amongst the other representatives of the PRO12 clubs were Ulster Rugby, Leinster Rugby, Munster Rugby, Glasgow Warriors and Benetton Treviso.

Scarlets Head Coach Wayne Pivac, new to European Rugby said he was looking forward to the challenge ahead.

He said: “It’s going to be fantastic, it’s all new to me, but seeing the footage of past finals and the glory days for the clubs, these occasions bring special moments. It’s something great to be a part of and with Toulon first up it’s just the kind of start you want.  I’ve heard the stories of the walk from the bus to the stadium at Stade Felix Mayol and as players and coaches you want to be in front of big crowds and big arenas and it’s a privilege for me to be involved.  We have Leicester Tigers too at home and that’s going to be an occasion that our players and supporters can get very passionate about. We love playing at home and we’d hope for a big turn-out.”

“It’s been a mixed bag of results for us so far, only one loss, and we have injuries to key players at the moment and it’s not been great to lose leaders at this time in the season, but the group is working hard and there’s a lot of change going on at the moment.”

Alun Wyn Jones, from the Ospreys said:  “”I know we’ve had a good start to the Pro12 but we have to park that up now as it counts for nothing. It’s almost like the start of a new season within the season.

“We’ve got a tough group, Northampton and Racing Metro are both up near the top of their domestic leagues, and we know what Treviso can do. It’s exciting. I’m not going to talk about groups of death and all that, there isn’t an easy group in this competition with the new format.

“We’ve got to be at our very best every game if we are going to make any kind of impact. If we aren’t, we’ll pay the price. The target will be to get off to a good start at home in round one in front of our supporters and then build from there, one game at a time.”

As well as the unveiling of the new look trophies, the launch event welcomed Canterbury as official kit supplier to both European Rugby Champions Cup and European Rugby Challenge Cup.

Canterbury of New Zealand will provide all match officials kit for the more than 130 games in European professional club rugby tournaments which kick off on the weekend of Thursday 16th October.

A new deal will extend Heineken®’s rich rugby heritage into a new era of European professional club rugby, and builds on its unique position as the only brand consistently involved in European club rugby since its inception 20 years ago.

Heineken® will give rugby fans the ultimate access to the matches by offering them the chance to partake in the Heineken® Back Stage Stadium Tour and to be present at the Heineken® Coin Toss alongside the referee and the two captains. In addition, the Heineken® Man of the Match will be presented after each game and Heineken® will also have extensive online and social media rights to bring engaging and exclusive content to fans of European club rugby everywhere.

Rugby fans will be able to enjoy Heineken® at all venues for both tournaments, and the brand will continue to offer fans, old and new alike, the opportunity to see these great matches live through ticket giveaways and competitions.

ECPR announced that it has secured a broadcast partnership with France Televisions for a four-year broadcast rights deal in France to the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. This completes ECPR’s TV broadcast agreements in France alongside beIN SPORTS.

The new-look European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup now consist of five pools of four clubs with the five pool winners and the three best runners-up qualifying for the knockout stages.

All of the competing clubs in both tournaments have qualified for the first time on merit from their respective domestic leagues, the Aviva Premiership, the Top 14 and the Guinness PRO12, or through a play-off series.

EPCR Board Director and Executive Committee member, Bruce Craig, said: “We believe the new-look European Rugby Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments will see European professional club rugby develop at an even faster pace over the coming seasons and we look forward to working closely with new partners in the competition across their markets.”

Our Regions are in European action very soon!

Support your Region in Europe and be part of the exciting atmosphere of big European Rugby occasions at the BT Sport Arms Park, Liberty Stadium, Parc y Scarlets and Rodney Parade!

Round One

At home – Cardiff Blues v Grenoble                                           Sat 18th Oct at 1430

At home – Ospreys v Treviso                                                       Sun 19th Oct at 1300

Away – Stade Francais v Newport Gwent Dragons                             Sat 18th Oct at 2045

Away – Toulon v Scarlets                                                                        Sun 19th Oct at 1635
Round Two

At home – Newport Gwent Dragons v Newcastle                 Fri 24th Oct at 1930

At home – Scarlets v Leicester                                                    Sat 25th Oct at 1945

Away – Northampton v Ospreys                                                            Sat 25th Oct at 1715

Away – Rovigo v Cardiff Blues                                                               Sat 25th Oct time tbc