The European Rugby Champions Cup – Get The Lowdown on This Year’s Event
This weekend marks the start of the 2019-2020 European Rugby Champions Cup and the participating teams will be keen to get their campaigns off to a stellar start. So which rugby union teams are in the running for the title and who will play who in the competition’s opening round?
The Pool Stage of the 2020 Championships – A Brief Overview
Twenty clubs from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, France, and Italy will take part in the pool stage of the championships. Nineteen of those teams qualified as a result of their performance in their respective leagues last season, while the final team, Sale Sharks, gained their place because they reached the semi-finals of the 2018-2019 edition of the competition.
The teams have been divided into five pools and each club will play the other teams in their pool at home and away. The winners of each pool will then proceed to the knockout stage of the competition, along with the three highest scoring runners-up, in order to battle it out for the stunning, five-handled rugby trophy.
The Northampton Saints and Leinster will be competing in Pool 1, alongside French clubs Benetton and Lyon, while Exeter Chiefs, Sale Sharks, Glasgow Warriors, and La Rochelle have been drawn in Pool 2. Pool 3 features Bath, Harlequins, Ulster, and Clermont, while Pool 4 is comprised of Saracens, Ospreys, Munster, and Racing 92. The final group, Pool 5, is made up of Gloucester, Connacht, Montpellier, and Toulouse.
The Opening Round of This Year’s Competition
The first round of the 2019-2020 European Rugby Champions Cup event will commence on Friday 15 November 2019, when Gloucester will take on Toulouse at the Kingsholm Stadium. The match is set to kick off at 19.45.
The following day’s schedule consists of the following six ties (the kick-off times shown are at GMT):
- Bath will play Ulster at the Recreation Ground at 13.00.
- Glasgow Warriors will play Sale Sharks at Scotstoun Stadium at 13.00.
- Leinster Rugby will play Benetton Rugby at Dublin’s RDS Arena at 15.15.
- La Rochelle will play the Exeter Chiefs at the Stade Marcel Deflandre at 15.15.
- Ospreys will play Munster at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium at 17.30.
- ASM Clermont Auvergne will play Harlequins at the Stade Marcel-Michelin at 17.30.
The final round one matches will take place on Sunday 17 November:
- Connacht Rugby will play Montpellier at Galway’s The Sportsground at 13.00.
- Northampton Saints will play Lyon at Franklin’s Gardens at 13.00.
- Racing 92 will play Saracens at the Paris La Defense Arena at 15.15.
Which Clubs Have Previously Claimed the European Rugby Champions Cup?
This prestigious competition has taken place annually since the 1995-1996 season. Two clubs, Toulouse and Leinster, have won the trophy on a record four occasions, and both of these teams will be participating in the championship this year. The reigning champions, Saracens, are three-time victors, as are Toulon, although the French club won’t be appearing at the 2019-2020 event.
Four more of the clubs competing in this year’s competition are former title holders: Munster, Northampton Saints, Ulster and Bath. The remaining editions of the event have been won by Leicester Tigers, Wasps, and Brive, all of whom will be absent this year.