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 format(s)||Round-robin and Knockout|
|Date||13 October 2016 – 12 May 2017|
|Attendance||483,750 (7,330 per match)|
Gloucester v Stade Francais (12 May 2017)
Enisey-ETM v Brive (10 December 2016)
|Tries scored||433 (6.56 per match)|
|Top point scorer(s)||Dan Biggar (Ospreys)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Keelan Giles (Ospreys)|
|Venue||Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh|
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.
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
- 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
- Two teams qualified through the 2015–16 Qualifying Competition, which took place alongside the Challenge Cup and Champions Cup competitions.
The following clubs qualified for the Challenge Cup.
|Aviva Premiership||Top 14||Pro12||Qualifying Competition|
Once again, EPCR expanded the qualifying competition.
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
- Enisey-STM qualify with an aggregate score of 70–5
Pool B Play-offEdit
- Timișoara Saracens qualify with an aggregate score of 64–40
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.
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.
|Rank||Top 14||Premiership||Pro 12||Qualifying Competition|
|2||La Rochelle||Gloucester||Ospreys||Timișoara Saracens|
|4||Pau||Worcester Warriors||Newport Gwent Dragons|
|5||Stade Français||Newcastle Falcons||Treviso|
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.
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.
In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers were used, as directed by EPCR:
- Where teams have played each other
- The club with the greater number of competition points from only matches involving tied teams.
- If equal, the club with the best aggregate points difference from those matches.
- If equal, the club that scored the most tries in those matches.
- Where teams remain tied and/or have not played each other in the competition (i.e. are from different pools)
- The club with the best aggregate points difference from the pool stage.
- If equal, the club that scored the most tries in the pool stage.
- If equal, the club with the fewest players suspended in the pool stage.
- If equal, the drawing of lots will determine a club's ranking.
|Winner of each pool, advance to quarter-finals.|
|Three highest-scoring second-place teams advance to quarter-finals.|
|Cannot advance to the quarter-finals.|
|La Rochelle (6)||6||5||0||1||203||104||+99||28||11||4||0||24|
|Newport Gwent Dragons||6||3||0||3||150||140||+10||19||19||2||0||14|
|Cardiff Blues (7)||6||5||0||1||150||115||+35||16||15||2||0||22|
|Stade Français (8)||6||4||0||2||152||108||+44||20||16||3||1||20|
Pool winners and runners-up rankingsEdit
|10||Newport Gwent Dragons||14||+10||19|
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:
31 March 2017
|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||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'
1 April 2017
|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||Try: Sanconnie (2) 49' c, 55' c|
Con: Germain (2/2) 50', 56'
Pen: Germain (2/2) 14', 19'
1 April 2017
|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||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'
2 April 2017
|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||Try: Zhvania 30' m|
Lakafia 54' c
Arias 59' c
Con: Plisson (2/3) 54', 59'
Pen: Plisson (2/2) 28', 44'
22 April 2017
|Try: Lagrange 66' m
Pen: James (3/5) 24', 40', 65'
|Report||Try: Burns 59' c|
Con: Burns (1/1) 59'
Pen: Burns (3/3) 9', 18', 56'
23 April 2017
|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||Try: Rokoduguni 63' c|
Fruean 68' m
Stooke 71' c
Con: Ford (2/3) 63', 71'
Pen: Ford (2/2) 10', 34'
12 May 2017
|Try: May 14' c
Moriarty 79' c
Con: Burns (2/2) 15', 79'
Pen: Burns (1/1) 22'
|Report||Try: Parisse 32' c |
Danty 57' m
Doumayrou 71' c
Con: Plisson (1/2) 32'
Steyn (1/1) 72'
Pen: Plisson (1/1) 27'
Steyn (1/1) 75'
- Does not include final as this is held at a neutral venue.
|Newport Gwent Dragons||3||11,766||3,922||4,126||3,544||46%|
|Timișoara Saracens||2[a 1]||6,500||3,250||3,500||3,000||10%|
- *Timișoara Saracens only played 2 home games as their final home game was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.
- 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.
- 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.
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- "Edinburgh confirm move from Murrayfield to Myreside". BBC Sport. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2016.
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- "EPCR Competition Rules". Archived from the original on 2015-04-20. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
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- "REPORT: Bath reach Challenge Cup semi-finals". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "REPORT: Gloucester win Kingsholm thriller". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-08-21. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "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.
- "REPORT: Plisson fires Stade into final". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-07-03. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "REPORT: Stade Francais are 2017 Challenge Cup winners". www.epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-08-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
- "Timișoara Saracens v Stade Francais Paris – match cancelled". EPCR. EPCR. 14 January 2017. Retrieved 15 January 2017.