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2016–17 European Rugby Challenge Cup

The 2016–17 European Rugby Challenge Cup was the third edition of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, an annual second-tier rugby union competition for professional clubs. Clubs from six European nations plus one Russian club competed. It was also the 21st season of the Challenge Cup competition in all forms, following on from the now defunct European Challenge Cup.

2016–17 European Rugby Challenge Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
 France
 Italy
 Romania
 Russia
 Scotland
 Wales
Tournament format(s)Round-robin and Knockout
Date13 October 2016 – 12 May 2017
Tournament statistics
Teams20
Matches played66
Attendance483,750 (7,330 per match)
Highest Attendance24,494
Gloucester v Stade Francais (12 May 2017)
Lowest Attendance300
Enisey-ETM v Brive (10 December 2016)
Tries scored433 (6.56 per match)
Top point scorer(s)Dan Biggar (Ospreys)
(78 points)
Top try scorer(s)Keelan Giles (Ospreys)
(7 tries)
Final
VenueMurrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
ChampionsFrance Stade Français
Runners-upEngland Gloucester
← 2015–16 (Previous)
(Next) 2017–18 →

Montpellier were the reigning champions, having beaten Harlequins in the final of the 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup. They did not defend their title as they automatically qualified for the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup as a result of the win.

The first round of the group stage began on the weekend of 13/14/15/16 October 2016, and the competition ended with the final on 12 May 2017 in Edinburgh.[1][2]

Stade Français won the final 25-17 against Gloucester.[3][4]

TeamsEdit

20 teams qualified for the 2016–17 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 expected 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
    • Any teams that did not qualify for the European Rugby Champions Cup, through the Guinness Pro12 — namely the Pro12 bottom 5. (5 teams)

The French Top 14 had its allocation reduced by 1 place after Montpellier won the 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup. This is after it was decided that, due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, there would be no qualification play-off.

  • Other European Nations: 2 teams

The following clubs qualified for the Challenge Cup.

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro12 Qualifying Competition
  England   France   Ireland   Italy   Scotland   Wales   Other
None as the four provinces qualified for the Champions Cup

Qualifying competitionEdit

Once again, EPCR expanded the qualifying competition.[5]

Eight teams were split into two pools of four. Each team played the four teams in the other pool once. 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 A Play-offEdit

9 April 2016
Rovigo   0 - 31   Enisey-STM


23 April 2016
Enisey-STM   39 - 5   Rovigo

  • Enisey-STM qualify with an aggregate score of 70 - 5

Pool B Play-offEdit

9 April 2016
Timișoara Saracens   36 - 23   Calvisano


23 April 2016
Calvisano   17 - 28   Timișoara Saracens

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
  Bath   Todd Blackadder   Dave Attwood Recreation Ground 14,500 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (9th)
  Bayonne   Vincent Etcheto   Jean Monribot Stade Jean Dauger 16,934 Pro D2 runner-up
  Benetton Treviso   Kieran Crowley   Alessandro Zanni Stadio Comunale di Monigo 6,700 Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)
  Bristol   Andy Robinson   Jack Lam Ashton Gate Stadium 27,000 2015–16 RFU Championship Champion
  Brive   Nicolas Godignon   Arnaud Méla Stade Amédée-Domenech 16,000 Top 14 7th-12th (8th)
  Cardiff Blues   Danny Wilson   Gethin Jenkins BT Cardiff Arms Park 12,125 Pro12 bottom 5 (7th)
  Edinburgh   Alan Solomons   Grant Gilchrist Murrayfield Stadium
New Myreside[a]
67,144[b]
5,500
Pro12 bottom 5 (9th)
  Enisey-STM   Alexander Pervukhin   Uldis Saulite Slava Stadium
Trud Stadium
Sochi Central Stadium
2,500
3,000
10,200
Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Gloucester   David Humphreys   Greig Laidlaw Kingsholm Stadium 16,115 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (8th)
  Grenoble   Bernard Jackman   Jonathan Wisniewski Stade des Alpes 20,068 Top 14 7th-12th (10th)
  Harlequins   John Kingston   Danny Care Twickenham Stoop 14,800 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (7th)
  La Rochelle   Patrice Collazo
  Xavier Garbajosa
  Uini Atonio Stade Marcel-Deflandre 15,000 Top 14 7th-12th (9th)
  Lyon   Pierre Mignoni   Julien Puricelli Matmut Stadium 11,805 Pro D2 Champion
  Newcastle Falcons   Dean Richards   Will Welch Kingston Park 10,200 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (11th)
  Newport Gwent Dragons   Kingsley Jones   T. Rhys Thomas Rodney Parade 8,800 Pro12 bottom 5 (11th)
  Ospreys   Steve Tandy   Alun Wyn Jones Liberty Stadium
Principality Stadium
20,827
74,500
Pro12 bottom 5 (8th)
  Pau   Simon Mannix   Julien Pierre Stade du Hameau 13,819 Top 14 7th-12th (11th)
  Stade Français   Gonzalo Quesada   Sergio Parisse Stade Jean-Bouin 20,000 Top 14 7th-12th (12th)
  Timișoara Saracens   Grainger Heikell   Cătălin Fercu Stadionul Dan Păltinișanu 32,972 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Worcester Warriors   Carl Hogg   Gerrit-Jan van Velze Sixways Stadium 12,024 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (10th)

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]

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro 12 Qualifying Competition
1   Brive   Harlequins   Cardiff Blues   Enisey-STM
2   La Rochelle   Gloucester   Ospreys   Timișoara Saracens
3   Grenoble   Bath   Edinburgh
4   Pau   Worcester Warriors   Newport Gwent Dragons
5   Stade Français   Newcastle Falcons   Treviso
6   Lyon   Bristol
7   Bayonne

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   Harlequins (1 AP)   Cardiff Blues (1 Pro12)   Brive (1 Top 14)   Ospreys (2 Pro12)   La Rochelle (2 Top 14)
Tier 2   Gloucester (2 AP)   Bath (3 AP)   Edinburgh (3 Pro12)   Grenoble (3 Top 14)   Worcester Warriors (4 AP)
Tier 3   Pau (4 Top 14)   Newport Gwent Dragons (4 Pro12)   Newcastle Falcons (5 AP)   Treviso (5 Pro12)   Stade Français (5 Top 14)
Tier 4   Bristol (6 AP)   Lyon (6 Top 14)   Bayonne (7 Top 14)   Enisey-STM (QC 1)   Timișoara Saracens (QC 2)

The following restrictions applied to the draw:

  • The 5 pools each contain four clubs, one from each of the 4 Tiers.
  • Each pool is required to have one club from each league, drawn from Tier 1, 2 or 3. A second team will only be added to a pool during the Tier 4 allocation.

Pool StageEdit

The draw took place on 29 June 2016, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.

Teams played each other twice, both at home and away, in the group stage, that began on weekend of 13/14/15/16 October 2016, and continued through to 19/20/21/22 January 2017, before the pool winners and three best runners-up progressed to the quarter finals.

Teams were awarded competition points, based on match result. Teams received 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.[8]

In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers were 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, advance to quarter-finals.
     Three highest-scoring second-place teams advance to quarter-finals.
     Cannot advance to the quarter-finals.

Pool 1Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Gloucester (2) 6 5 0 1 237 110 +127 31 15 5 0 25
  La Rochelle (6) 6 5 0 1 203 104 +99 28 11 4 0 24
  Benetton Treviso 6 2 0 4 75 182 −107 9 23 0 0 8
  Bayonne 6 0 0 6 116 235 −119 14 33 0 1 1

Pool 2Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Ospreys (1) 6 6 0 0 279 51 +228 42 7 6 0 30
  Lyon 6 3 0 3 187 164 +23 26 21 4 0 16
  Newcastle Falcons 6 2 0 4 158 180 −22 22 26 2 2 12
  Grenoble 6 1 0 5 74 303 −229 8 44 1 0 5

Pool 3Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Brive (5) 6 5 0 1 175 120 +55 16 13 3 0 23
  Newport Gwent Dragons 6 3 0 3 150 140 +10 19 19 2 0 14
  Worcester Warriors 6 2 0 4 147 117 +30 22 13 2 3 13
  Enisey-STM 6 2 0 4 107 202 –95 13 27 1 0 9

Pool 4Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Bath (4) 6 5 0 1 214 91 +123 24 10 3 0 23
  Cardiff Blues (7) 6 5 0 1 150 115 +35 16 15 2 0 22
  Bristol 6 2 0 4 138 181 –43 19 22 2 0 10
  Pau 6 0 0 6 97 212 –115 13 25 0 2 2

Pool 5Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Edinburgh (3) 6 5 0 1 215 122 +93 30 15 3 1 24
  Stade Français (8) 6 4 0 2 152 108 +44 20 16 3 1 20
  Harlequins 6 3 0 3 230 113 +117 34 14 4 2 18
  Timișoara Saracens 6 0 0 6 26 280 –254 2 41 0 0 0

Pool winners and runners-up rankingsEdit

Seed Pool Winners Pts +/− TF
1   Ospreys 30 +228 42
2   Gloucester 25 +127 31
3   Edinburgh 24 +93 30
4   Bath 23 +123 24
5   Brive 23 +55 21
Seed Pool Runners-Up Pts +/− TF
6   La Rochelle 24 +99 28
7   Cardiff Blues 22 +35 16
8   Stade Français 20 +44 20
9   Lyon 16 +23 26
10   Newport Gwent Dragons 14 +10 19

Knock-out stageEdit

FormatEdit

The eight qualifiers were ranked according to performance in the pool stages, and compete in the quarter-finals, which was held on the weekend of 30/31 March, 1/2 April 2017. The top four teams hosted the quarter-finals against the lower teams in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

The semi-finals were played on the weekend of 21/22/23 April 2017. 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 was awarded as follows:[8]

The winners of the semi-finals contested the final at Murrayfield on 12 May 2017.[2]

Quarter-finalsEdit

31 March 2017
20:00
Edinburgh   (3) 22–32 (6)   La Rochelle
Try: Burleigh 19' c
Ford 39' m
Watson 46' c
Con: Tovey (1/2) 20'
Hidalgo-Clyne (1/1) 48'
Pen: Weir (1/1) 65'
Report[9] Try: Maurouard (2) 5' c, 11' c
Retiere 24' m
Barry 35' c
Con: James (3/4) 6', 13', 35'
Pen: James (2/3) 69', 79'
Murrayfield Stadium
Attendance: 5,489
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)
1 April 2017
12:45
Bath   (4) 34–20 (5)   Brive
Try: Faletau (2) 21' c, 43' c
Homer 27' m
Rokoduguni (2) 31' m, 75' c
Con: Priestland (3/5) 22', 44', 77'
Pen: Priestland (1/1) 9'
Report[10] Try: Sanconnie (2) 49' c, 55' c
Con: Germain (2/2) 50', 56'
Pen: Germain (2/2) 14', 19'
Recreation Ground
Attendance: 11,677
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
1 April 2017
20:05
Gloucester   (2) 46–26 (7)   Cardiff Blues
Try: Moriarty 10' c
Marshall (2) 25' c, 58' c
May 54' c
Atkinson 65' c
Purdy 78' m
Con: Burns (1/1) 10'
Twelvetrees (4/5) 26', 55', 60', 66'
Pen: Burns (1/1) 17'
Twelvetrees (1/1) 23'
Report[11] Try: Cuthbert (2) 4' c, 34' c
Con: Shingler (2/2) 5', 35'
Pen: Shingler (3/3) 14', 21', 49'
Drop: Anscombe (1/1) 39'
Kingsholm Stadium
Attendance: 11,206
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (FFR)
2 April 2017
17:45
Ospreys   (1) 21–25 (8)   Stade Français
Try: Matavesi 47' m
Ardron 76' c
Con: Biggar (1/2) 76'
Pen: Biggar (3/3) 13', 33', 53'
Report[12] Try: Zhvania 30' m
Lakafia 54' c
Arias 59' c
Con: Plisson (2/3) 54', 59'
Pen: Plisson (2/2) 28', 44'
Principality Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance: 12,127
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)

Semi-finalsEdit

22 April 2017
21:00
La Rochelle   14–16   Gloucester
Try: Lagrange 66' m
Pen: James (3/5) 24', 40', 65'
Report[13] Try: Burns 59' c
Con: Burns (1/1) 59'
Pen: Burns (3/3) 9', 18', 56'
Stade Marcel-Deflandre
Attendance: 15,000
Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)
23 April 2017
13:30
Stade Français   28–25   Bath
Try: Doumayrou 12' c
Plisson 48' m
Pyle 78' c
Con: Plisson (2/3) 12', 78'
Pen: Plisson (2/2) 5', 17'
Drop: Plisson (1/1) 80'
Report[14] Try: Rokoduguni 63' c
Fruean 68' m
Stooke 71' c
Con: Ford (2/3) 63', 71'
Pen: Ford (2/2) 10', 34'
Stade Jean-Bouin
Attendance: 10,175
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

FinalEdit

12 May 2017
20:00
Gloucester   17–25   Stade Français
Report[15]
Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh
Attendance: 24,494
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
  Bath 4 49,570 12,393 13,257 11,677 85%
  Bayonne 3 8,703 2,901 5,005 1,498 17%
  Benetton Treviso 3 4,100 1,367 1,900 700 25%
  Bristol 3 28,988 9,663 13,140 7,559 36%
  Brive 3 11,500 3,833 5,000 2,500 24%
  Cardiff Blues 3 21,752 7,251 7,569 6,960 60%
  Edinburgh 4 20,105 5,026 5,489 4,055 29%
  Enisey-ETM 3 2,800 933 1,500 300 18%
  Gloucester 4 39,367 9,842 11,206 9,265 61%
  Grenoble 3 20,607 6,869 7,003 6,754 42%
  Harlequins 3 29,692 9,897 11,820 8,230 67%
  La Rochelle 4 56,910 14,228 15,000 13,123 95%
  Lyon 3 27,472 9,157 12,080 6,500 77%
  Newcastle Falcons 3 10,448 3,483 3,551 3,390 34%
  Newport Gwent Dragons 3 11,766 3,922 4,126 3,544 46%
  Ospreys 4 33,504 8,376 12,127 6,986 30%
  Pau 3 23,635 7,878 9,212 6,050 57%
  Stade Francais 4 31,363 7,841 10,175 6,511 39%
  Timișoara Saracens 2[a 1] 6,500 3,250 3,500 3,000 10%
  Worcester Warriors 3 20,474 6,825 7,209 6,097 57%
  1. ^ *Timișoara Saracens only played 2 home games as their final home game was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.[16]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ On 10 May 2016, it was announced that Edinburgh will move all their home games to Myreside for the second half of the season, as their new permanent home ground.[6]
  2. ^ 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 2016/17 European club rugby dates". epcrugby.com.
  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. ^ "European Challenge Cup final: Gloucester 17-25 Stade Francais". BBC Sport. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  4. ^ "Gloucester 17-25 Stade Francais: Despair for David Humphreys' men as they throw away 10-point lead to lose in the Challenge Cup final". Daily Mail. 12 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  5. ^ "2015–16 Qualifying Competition". Archived from the original on 2016-04-20. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  6. ^ "Edinburgh confirm move from Murrayfield to Myreside". BBC Sport. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
  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 "EPCR Competition Rules". Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  9. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  10. ^ "REPORT: Bath reach Challenge Cup semi-finals". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  11. ^ "REPORT: Gloucester win Kingsholm thriller". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  12. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-08-21. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  13. ^ "REPORT: Gloucester become first team to win in La Rochelle". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. ^ "REPORT: Plisson fires Stade into final". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  15. ^ "REPORT: Stade Francais are 2017 Challenge Cup winners". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-08-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  16. ^ "Timisoara Saracens v Stade Francais Paris - match cancelled". EPCR. EPCR. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.