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2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup

The 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup was the second edition of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, an annual pan-European rugby union competition for professional clubs. It is also the 20th season of the Challenge Cup competition in all forms, following on from the now defunct European Challenge Cup. Due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup taking place during September and October 2015, the competition began slightly later than usual, with the first round of the group stage, on the weekend of 12/13/14/15 November 2015, and ended with the final on 13 May 2016 in Lyon.[1][2]

2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
 France
 Ireland
 Italy
 Russia
 Scotland
 Wales
Tournament format(s)Round-robin and Knockout
Date12 November 2015 – 13 May 2016
Tournament statistics
Teams20
Matches played61
Attendance334,108 (5,477 per match)
Highest Attendance28,556
Montpellier v Harlequins
13 May 2016
Lowest Attendance400
Enisey-STM v Newcastle Falcons
16 January 2016
Tries scored347 (5.69 per match)
Top point scorer(s)Benoît Paillaugue (Montpellier)
Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues)
(56 points)
Top try scorer(s)Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons)
(6 tries)
Final
VenueGrand Stade de Lyon, Lyon
ChampionsFrance Montpellier (1st title)
Runners-upEngland Harlequins
← 2014–15 (Previous)
(Next) 2016–17 →

Gloucester were the 2014 1–5 champions, having beaten Edinburgh 19–13 in the final.

Montpellier won the cup, defeating Harlequins in the final 26-19.[3][4]

Contents

TeamsEdit

20 teams qualified for the 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup; a total of 18 qualified from across the Premiership, Pro12 and Top 14, as a direct result of their domestic league performance, with two coming through a play-off. The distribution of teams was:

  • England: 6
  • France: 7
    • Any teams finishing between 8th-12th position in the Top 14. (5 Teams)
    • The champion, and the winner of the promotion play-off, from the Pro D2. (2 Teams)
  • Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales: 5 teams
  • Other European Nations: 2 teams

As of 24 May 2015, the following clubs qualified for the Challenge Cup:

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro12 Qualifying Competition
  England   France   Ireland   Italy   Scotland   Wales   Other

Champions Cup play-offEdit

The following teams took part in play-off matches to decide the final team in the Champions Cup. The play-off was held between Premiership side Gloucester, as Challenge Cup winners, and teams from the Pro12 and Top 14.

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro 12
  England   France   Ireland
Gloucester Bordeaux Bègles Connacht

The play-off was a two-match series, with the winner of the first match progressing to the second, and the winner of that second match qualifying for the Champions Cup. The two losing sides both joined the Challenge Cup.

24 May 2015
15:30 GMT
Gloucester   40–32
(a.e.t.)
  Connacht
Report[5]
31 May 2015
17:00 GMT
Gloucester   22−23   Bordeaux Bègles
Report[6]
Sixways Stadium, Worcester
Attendance: 5,447
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)

Qualifying CompetitionEdit

In December 2014, EPCR announced an expanded format for the qualifying competition.

Six teams were to compete in two pools of three. Each team played the other once, either home or away. The winner of each pool then played a two-legged final against last year's qualifying sides, and the winners, on aggregate, took the two remaining places in the Challenge Cup.

Pool 1 Play-offEdit

18 April 2015
Rovigo Delta   17–17   Calvisano


2 May 2015
Calvisano   35−7   Rovigo Delta

  • Calvisano won the play-off 52-24 on aggregate, and qualified for the Challenge Cup.

Pool 2 Play-offEdit

18 April 2015
CSM Baia Mare   20–30   Enisey-STM


2 May 2015
Enisey-STM   33–12   CSM Baia Mare

  • Enisey-STM won the play-off 63-32 on aggregate, and competed in the Challenge Cup

Team detailsEdit

Below is the list of coaches, captain and stadiums with their method of qualification for each team.

Note: Placing shown in brackets, denotes standing at the end of the regular season for their respective leagues, with their end of season positioning shown through CH for Champions, RU for Runner-up, SF for losing Semi-finalist and QF for losing Quarter-finalist.

Team Coach /
Director of Rugby
Captain Stadium Capacity Method of Qualification
  Agen   Philippe Sella   Lionel Mazars Stade Armandie 14,000 Pro D2 runner-up
  Brive   Nicolas Godignon   Arnaud Méla Stade Amédée-Domenech 16,000 Top 14 7th-12th (10th)
  Calvisano   Massimo Brunello   Tommaso Castello Centro Sportivo San Michele 4,000 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Cardiff Blues   Danny Wilson   Gethin Jenkins BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park 12,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (10th)
  Castres Olympique   Christophe Urios   Rodrigo Capo Ortega Stade Pierre-Antoine 11,500 Top 14 7th-12th (12th)
  Connacht   Pat Lam   John Muldoon Sportsgrounds 7,800 7th Place play-off loser
  Edinburgh   Alan Solomons   Mike Coman Murrayfield Stadium 67,144[a] Pro12 bottom 5 (8th)
  Enisey-STM   Alexander Pervukhin   Jurijs Baranovs Central Stadium
Sochi Central Stadium
15,000
10,200
Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Gloucester   David Humphreys   Billy Twelvetrees Kingsholm Stadium 16,500 7th Place play-off loser
  Grenoble   Fabrice Landreau   Fabien Gengenbacher Stade des Alpes 20,068 Top 14 7th-12th (11th)
  Harlequins   Conor O'Shea   Danny Care Twickenham Stoop 14,816 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (8th)
  La Rochelle   Patrice Collazo   Uini Atonio Stade Marcel-Deflandre 15,000 Top 14 7th-12th (9th)
  London Irish   Tom Coventry   George Skivington Madejski Stadium 24,161 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (10th)
  Montpellier   Jake White   Fulgence Ouedraogo Altrad Stadium 14,700 Top 14 7th-12th (8th)
  Newcastle Falcons   John Wells   Will Welch Kingston Park 10,200 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (11th)
  Newport Gwent Dragons   Lyn Jones   T. Rhys Thomas Rodney Parade 8,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (9th)
  Pau   Simon Mannix   Julien Pierre Stade du Hameau 13,819 Pro D2 Champion
  Sale Sharks   Steve Diamond   Daniel Braid AJ Bell Stadium 12,000 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (7th)
  Worcester Warriors   Dean Ryan   Gerrit-Jan van Velze Sixways Stadium 12,024 2014–15 RFU Championship Champion
  Zebre   Gianluca Guidi   George Biagi Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi 5,000 Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)

SeedingEdit

The 20 competing teams were seeded and split into four tiers; seeding was based on performance in their respective domestic leagues. Where promotion and relegation is in effect in a league, the promoted team was seeded last, or (if multiple teams are promoted) by performance in the lower tier.[7] So, Pau – who were Pro D2 champions – will be seeded above Agen – who qualified through the Pro D2 play-off.

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro 12 Qualifying Competition
1   Montpellier   Sale Sharks   Connacht   Calvisano
2   La Rochelle   Harlequins   Edinburgh   Enisey-STM
3   Brive   Gloucester   Newport Gwent Dragons
4   Grenoble   London Irish   Cardiff Blues
5   Castres Olympique   Newcastle Falcons   Zebre
6   Pau   Worcester Warriors
7   Agen

Teams were taken from a league in order of rank and put into a tier. A draw was used to allocate two second seeds to Tier 1; the remaining team went into Tier 2. This allocation indirectly determined which fourth-seeded team entered Tier 2, while the others entered Tier 3.

Given the nature of the Qualifying Competition, a competition including developing rugby nations and Italian clubs not competing in the Pro12, Rugby Europe 1 and Rugby Europe 2 were automatically included in Tier 4, despite officially being ranked 1/2 from that competition.

The brackets show each team's seeding and their league (for example, 1 Top 14 indicates the team was seeded 1st from the Top 14).

Tier 1   Connacht (1 Pro12)   Sale Sharks (1 AP)   Montpellier (1 Top 14)   La Rochelle (2 Top 14)   Edinburgh (2 Pro12)
Tier 2   Harlequins (2 AP)   Newport Gwent Dragons (3 Pro12)   Gloucester (3 AP)   Brive (3 Top 14)   London Irish (4 AP)
Tier 3   Grenoble (4 Top 14)   Cardiff Blues (4 Pro12)   Zebre (5 Pro12)   Newcastle Falcons (5 AP)   Castres Olympique (5 Top 14)
Tier 4   Worcester Warriors (6 AP)   Pau (Top 14)   Agen (Top 14)   Calvisano (QC 1)   Enisey-STM (QC 2)

The draw for the Challenge Cup took place on 17 June 2015 in Neuchatel, Switzerland.[8]

The following restrictions applied to the draw:[8]

  • The 5 pools each consisted of four clubs, one from each of the 4 Tiers.
  • Each pool was required to have one Aviva Premiership club from Tier 1, 2 or 3, one Top 14 club from Tier 1, 2 or 3, and one Pro12 club from Tier 1, 2 or 3 (with the possibility of a second Aviva or Top 14 or Pro12 club coming from Tier 4).
  • If there were two PRO12 clubs in the same pool, they had to be from different countries. (There were 2 Welsh, 1 Irish, 1 Scottish and 1 Italian teams from the Pro12 this year.)
  • Similarly, the two Italian sides (Tier 3 Zebre from the Pro12 and Tier 4 Calvisano from the Qualifying Competition) could not be in the same pool.

Pool stageEdit

The draw took place on 17 June 2015.[9]

Teams will play each other twice, both at home and away, in the group stage, that will begin on weekend of 12/13/14/15 November 2015, and continued through to 21/22/23/24 January 2016, before the pool winners and three best runners-up progressed to the quarter finals.[9]

Teams will be awarded competition points, based on match result. Teams receive 4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw, 1 attacking bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match and 1 defensive bonus point for losing a match by seven points or fewer.[10]

In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers will be used, as directed by EPCR:

  1. Where teams have played each other
    1. The club with the greater number of competition points from only matches involving tied teams.
    2. If equal, the club with the best aggregate points difference from those matches.
    3. If equal, the club that scored the most tries in those matches.
  2. Where teams remain tied and/or have not played each other in the competition (i.e. are from different pools)
    1. The club with the best aggregate points difference from the pool stage.
    2. If equal, the club that scored the most tries in the pool stage.
    3. If equal, the club with the fewest players suspended in the pool stage.
    4. If equal, the drawing of lots will determine a club's ranking..
Key to colours
     Winner of each pool, advanced to quarter-finals.
     Three highest-scoring second-place teams advanced to quarter-finals.

Pool 1Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Connacht (5) 6 4 0 2 147 96 +51 20 12 2 1 19
  Newcastle Falcons 6 3 0 3 137 97 +40 20 9 3 1 16
  Brive 6 3 0 3 114 88 +26 12 11 1 3 16
  Enisey-STM 6 2 0 4 63 180 –117 8 28 0 0 8

Pool 2Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Sale Sharks (3) 6 5 0 1 154 78 +76 20 9 3 0 23
  Newport Gwent Dragons (7) 6 4 0 2 151 117 +34 17 16 3 1 20
  Castres Olympique 6 3 0 3 124 136 –12 14 15 2 1 15
  Pau 6 0 0 6 68 166 –98 9 20 0 0 0

Pool 3Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Harlequins (1) 6 5 0 1 225 123 +102 31 13 5 0 25
  Montpellier (6) 6 4 0 2 221 116 +105 28 13 4 0 20
  Cardiff Blues 6 3 0 3 229 131 +98 31 14 4 1 17
  Calvisano 6 0 0 6 39 344 –305 3 53 0 0 0

Pool 4Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Gloucester (2) 6 6 0 0 151 86 +65 16 10 1 0 25
  Zebre 6 3 0 3 114 92 +22 11 12 0 1 13
  La Rochelle 6 2 0 4 100 127 –27 12 13 2 0 10
  Worcester Warriors 6 1 0 5 88 148 –60 9 14 0 1 5

Pool 5Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Grenoble (4) 6 5 0 1 187 154 +33 22 19 2 0 22
  London Irish (8) 6 3 0 3 170 106 +64 25 10 3 2 17
  Edinburgh 6 4 0 2 125 103 +22 14 12 1 0 17
  Agen 6 0 0 6 98 217 –119 13 32 1 1 2

Pool winners and runners-up rankingsEdit

Rank Pool Winners Pts TF +/−
1   Harlequins 25 31 +102
2   Gloucester 25 16 +65
3   Sale Sharks 23 20 +76
4   Grenoble 22 22 +33
5   Connacht 19 20 +51
Rank Pool Runners–up Pts TF +/−
6   Montpellier 20 28 +105
7   Newport Gwent Dragons 20 17 +34
8   London Irish 17 25 +64
9   Newcastle Falcons 16 20 +40
10   Zebre 13 11 +22

Knock-out stageEdit

The eight qualifiers will be ranked according to performance in the pool stages, and competed in the quarter-finals, which will be held on the weekend of 8/9/10 April 2016. The four top seeds will host the quarter-finals against the lower seeds, in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

The semi-finals will played on the weekend of 22/23/24 April 2016. 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 home advantage would be awarded to a side based on "performances by clubs during the pool stages as well as the achievement of a winning a quarter-final match away from home".

Home advantage, will be awarded as follows:[10]

The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, at Parc Olympique Lyonnais (called "Grand Stade de Lyon" by EPCR), on 13 May 2016.[2]

Quarter-finalsEdit

8 April 2016
19:45
Sale Sharks   (3) 19–25 (6)   Montpellier
Try: Brady 21' m
James 76' m
Pen: Cipriani (3/3) 11', 32', 61'
Report[11] Try: Willemse 14' c
Con: Paillaugue (1/1) 15'
Pen: Paillaugue (6/8) 17', 45', 55', 64', 67', 71'
AJ Bell Stadium
Attendance: 4,557
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
9 April 2016
12:45
Gloucester   (2) 21–23 (7)   Newport Gwent Dragons
Try: Morgan 13' m
McColl 63' c
Con: Laidlaw (1/2) 64'
Pen: Laidlaw (3/3) 19', 26', 71'
Report[12] Try: Davies 76' m
Pen: D. Jones (6/6) 9', 16', 32', 39', 44', 54'
Kingsholm Stadium
Attendance: 10,501
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (FFR)
9 April 2016
21:05
Grenoble   (4) 33–32 (5)   Connacht
Try: Wisniewski 32' c
Dupont 61' c
Diaby 69' c
Con: Wisniewski (3/3) 33', 62', 70'
Pen: Wisniewski (3/3) 20', 37', 40'
Drop: Wisniewski (1/1) 75'
Report[13] Try: Adeolokun (2) 11' c, 28' c
Henshaw 22' m
Healy 42' c
Con: O'Leary (3/4) 12', 29', 43'
Pen: O'Leary (1/1) 53'
Cooney (1/1) 72'
Stade des Alpes
Attendance: 14,077
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
9 April 2016
20:05
Harlequins   (1) 38–30 (8)   London Irish
Try: Wallace (2) 6' m, 61' m
Care (3) 20' c, 52' m, 74' c
Con: Botica (2/5) 22', 76'
Pen: Botica (3/4) 26', 36', 71'
Report[14] Try: Mulchrone 27' c
McKibbin 44' c
Maitland 50' c
Con: Geraghty (3/3) 28', 45', 51'
Pen: Geraghty (3/3) 13', 24', 33'
Twickenham Stoop
Attendance: 9,851
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

Semi-finalsEdit

22 April 2016
19:45
Harlequins   30–6   Grenoble
Try: Roberts 11' c
Evans 53' c
Lowe 68' c
Con: Botica (1/1) 12'
Evans (2/2) 54', 68'
Pen: Botica (2/2) 6', 17'
Evans (1/2) 66'
Report[15] Pen: Wisniewski (2/2) 15', 26'
Twickenham Stoop
Attendance: 10,563
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
23 April 2016
18:30
Montpellier   22–12   Newport Gwent Dragons
Try: B. du Plessis 59' c
Con: Catrakilis (1/1) 60'
Pen: Catrakilis (4/4) 20', 28', 32', 54'
Paillaugue (1/1) 35'
Report[16] Try: Amos 61' m
Meyer 77' c
Con: O'Brien (1/2) 78'
Altrad Stadium
Attendance: 7,692
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

FinalEdit

13 May 2016
21:00
Harlequins   19–26   Montpellier
Try: Yarde 71' c
Con: Botica (1/1) 72'
Pen: Evans (3/3) 4', 31', 34'
Botica (1/1) 77'
Report[17] Try: Mogg 22' c, 47' c
Con: Catrakilis (2/2) 23', 48'
Pen: Catrakilis (4/4) 7', 28', 54', 67'
Grand Stade de Lyon, Lyon
Attendance: 28,556
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

AttendancesEdit

  • Does not include final as this is held at a neutral venue.
Club Home
Games
Total Average Highest Lowest % Capacity
  Agen 3 13,664 4,555 5,200 3,932 33%
  Brive 3 12,000 4,000 6,000 3,000 25%
  Calvisano 3 3,900 1,300 1,500 1,100 33%
  Cardiff Blues 3 15,341 5,114 5,490 4,602 41%
  Castres Olympique 3 20,421 6,807 7,580 6,025 59%
  Connacht 3 12,964 4,321 4,357 4,261 55%
  Edinburgh 3 9,915 3,305 3,551 3,100 5%
  Enisey-ETM 3 3,500 1,167 2,500 400 7%
  Gloucester 4 40,625 10,156 10,942 9,209 62%
  Grenoble 4 40,308 10,077 14,077 8,361 50%
  Harlequins 5 51,692 10,338 12,912 7,136 70%
  La Rochelle 3 31,863 10,621 12,763 8,500 71%
  London Irish 3 11,859 3,953 4,216 3,684 16%
  Montpellier 4 31,092 7,773 9,900 6,000 53%
  Newcastle Falcons 3 11,963 3,988 4,093 3,803 39%
  Newport Gwent Dragons 3 12,973 4,324 4,455 4,202 49%
  Pau 3 21,500 7,167 8,000 6,000 52%
  Sale Sharks 4 17,103 4,276 4,557 4,006 36%
  Worcester Warriors 3 18,032 6,011 6,774 5,124 50%
  Zebre 3 5,854 1,951 2,413 1,657 39%

[18]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Although Murrayfield's full capacity is 67,144, only the lower section of the West Stand, with a capacity of 12,464, is generally opened for Edinburgh fixtures.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Key 2015/16 EPCR dates and Champions Cup play-offs : EPCRugby.com | News | European Rugby Champions Cup". epcrugby.com. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
  2. ^ a b "Lyon to host 2016 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals with Edinburgh chosen for 2017". EPCRugby. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Harlequins 19 Montpellier 26: Quins unable to give Conor O'Shea last hurrah in Challenge Cup final". Daily Telegraph. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  4. ^ "European Challenge Cup final: Harlequins 19-26 Montpellier". BBC Sport. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Champions Cup play-off: Gloucester 40-32 Connacht". 24 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
  6. ^ "European Rugby Champions Cup: Gloucester 22-23 Bordeaux-Begles". 31 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  7. ^ "Watch the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Pool Draws live : News | ERC | Official Website". ERCRugby.com. 7 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b European Rugby Pool Draws for 2015/16 season - EPCRugby.com
  9. ^ a b "European heavyweights to clash following 2015/16 Pool Draws". EPCRugby. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b "EPCR Competition Rules". Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  11. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  12. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  13. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  15. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  16. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  17. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  18. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup 15/16 Home attendance". Rugby Statbunker. 9 April 2016.