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2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup

The 2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup was the fourth European Rugby Champions Cup championship (23rd overall), the annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby and was the twenty-third season of pan-European professional club rugby competition.

2017–18 European Rugby Champions Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
 France
 Ireland
 Italy
 Scotland
 Wales
Tournament format(s)Round-robin and knockout
Date13 October 2017 – 12 May 2018
Tournament statistics
Teams20
Matches played67
Attendance1,005,537 (15,008 per match)
Highest Attendance52,282 – Leinster v Racing 92
(12 May 2018)
Lowest Attendance2,600 – Benetton v Scarlets
(16 December 2017)
Tries scored366 (5.46 per match)
Top point scorer(s)Owen Farrell (Saracens)
(92 points)
Top try scorer(s)Dan Evans (Ospreys)
(6 tries)
Final
VenueSan Mamés Stadium, Bilbao
Attendance52,282
ChampionsIreland Leinster (4th title)
Runners-upFrance Racing 92
← 2016–17 (Previous)
(Next) 2018–19 →

The format of the competition began with a play-off qualification round at the end of the preceding season featuring teams from England, France, Ireland and Wales. The winner joined 19 teams already qualified by way of their domestic league position in the pool stage of the competition - a home and away round-robin for five groups of four teams. Following the pool stage, five pool winners, and three highest ranked runners-up, qualified for the quarter-finals of the competition, as the Cup thereafter reverted to a single elimination knockout format.

The tournament began on 13 October 2017. The final was won by Leinster on 12 May 2018 at San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao, Spain.[1] This was Leinster's fourth title, tying the record for the most successful team in the competition's history.[2][3] This was the first time the final was held outside one of the Six Nations countries.

Contents

TeamsEdit

Twenty clubs from the three major European domestic and regional leagues competed in the Champions Cup. Nineteen of these qualified directly as a result of their league performance.

The distribution of teams was:

  • England: 7 clubs
  • France: 6 clubs
    • The top 6 clubs in the Top 14. (6 clubs)
  • Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales: 7 clubs, based on performance in the Pro12.
    • The best placed club from each nation. (4 clubs)
    • The 3 highest ranked clubs not qualified thereafter. (3 clubs)

The following teams qualified for the 2017–18 tournament.

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro12
  England   France   Ireland   Italy   Scotland   Wales

20th team play-offEdit

The play-off system that had been suspended the season before, due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup, returned to decide the final team competing in the Champions Cup.[4][5]

Four clubs competed in a play-off to decide the final team in the Champions Cup.[4]

The play-off comprised 3 matches, contested by one team from the Aviva Premiership, one from the Top 14, and two from the Guinness Pro12.

The two Pro12 teams played either the Premiership or Top 14 side in a single-leg semi-final, held at the home ground of the non-Pro12 side. The winners of these matches then played in a play-off final, and the winner of this match took the 20th place in the Champions Cup. The three losing teams will all compete in the 2017–18 European Rugby Challenge Cup.

The following teams took part:[5]

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro12
  England   France   Ireland   Wales
Northampton Saints Stade Français Connacht Cardiff Blues

MatchesEdit

A draw was held on 15 March 2017 to determine the two semi-final matches, and the semi-final winner that would have home advantage in the final.[4]

Semi-finals

19 May 2017
18:00 CEST
Stade Français   46 – 21   Cardiff Blues
Report
Stade Jean-Bouin
Attendance: 4,767
Referee: Greg Garner (RFU)
20 May 2017
16:00 BST
Northampton Saints   21 – 15   Connacht
Report
Franklin's Gardens
Attendance: 9,561
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)

Play-off final

26 May 2017
19:45 BST
Northampton Saints   23 – 22   Stade Français
Report
Franklin's Gardens
Attendance: 10,273
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

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   Matt Garvey Recreation Ground 14,500 Aviva Premiership top 6 (5th)
  Benetton   Kieran Crowley   Dean Budd Stadio Comunale di Monigo 6,700 Pro12 top Italian team (10th)
  Castres   Christophe Urios   Mathieu Babillot Stade Pierre-Fabre[a] 12,500 Top 14 top 6 (5th) (QF)
  Clermont   Franck Azéma   Damien Chouly Stade Marcel-Michelin 19,022 Top 14 top 6 (2nd) (CH)
  Exeter Chiefs   Rob Baxter   Jack Yeandle Sandy Park 12,800 Aviva Premiership top 6 (2nd) (CH)
  Glasgow Warriors   Dave Rennie   Ryan Wilson Scotstoun Stadium 7,351 Pro12 top Scottish team (6th)
  Harlequins   John Kingston   James Horwill Twickenham Stoop 14,800 Aviva Premiership top 6 (6th)
  La Rochelle   Patrice Collazo
  Xavier Garbajosa
  Jason Eaton Stade Marcel-Deflandre 16,000 Top 14 top 6 (1st) (SF)
  Leicester Tigers   Matt O'Connor   Tom Youngs Welford Road 25,800 Aviva Premiership top 6 (4th) (SF)
  Leinster   Leo Cullen   Isa Nacewa RDS Arena
Aviva Stadium
18,500
51,700
Pro12 top 7 (2nd) (SF)
  Montpellier   Vern Cotter   Louis Picamoles Altrad Stadium 15,697 Top 14 top 6 (3rd) (QF)
  Munster   Johann van Graan
(For   Rassie Erasmus)[b]
  Peter O'Mahony Thomond Park 26,200 Pro12 top Irish team (1st) (RU)
  Northampton Saints   Alan Dickens (For
  Jim Mallinder)
[c]
  Dylan Hartley Franklin's Gardens 15,500 Play-off winner
  Ospreys   Steve Tandy   Alun Wyn Jones Liberty Stadium 20,827 Pro12 top 7 (4th) (SF)
  Racing 92   Laurent Labit
  Laurent Travers
  Dimitri Szarzewski Stade Yves-du-Manoir
U Arena [d]
14,000
30,681[11]
Top 14 top 6 (6th) (SF)
  Saracens   Mark McCall   Brad Barritt Allianz Park 10,000 Aviva Premiership top 6 (3rd) (SF)
  Scarlets   Wayne Pivac   Ken Owens Parc y Scarlets 14,870 Pro12 top Welsh team (3rd) (CH)
  Toulon   Fabien Galthié   Duane Vermeulen Stade Mayol 18,200 Top 14 top 6 (4th) (RU)
  Ulster   Les Kiss   Rory Best Kingspan Stadium 18,196 Pro12 top 7 (5th)
  Wasps   Dai Young   Joe Launchbury Ricoh Arena 32,609 Aviva Premiership top 6 (1st) (RU)

SeedingEdit

The twenty competing teams are seeded and split into four tiers, each containing five teams.

For the purpose of creating the tiers, clubs are ranked based on their domestic league performances and on their qualification for the knockout phases of their championships, so a losing quarter-finalist in the Top 14 would be seeded below a losing semi-finalist, even if they finished above them in the regular season.[12]

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro12
1   Clermont   Exeter Chiefs   Scarlets
2   Toulon   Wasps   Munster
3   La Rochelle   Saracens   Leinster
4   Racing 92   Leicester Tigers   Ospreys
5   Montpellier   Bath   Ulster
6   Castres   Harlequins   Glasgow Warriors
7   Northampton Saints   Benetton

Based on these seedings, teams are placed into one of the four tiers, with the top seed clubs being put in Tier 1. The nature of the tier system means that a draw is needed to allocate two of the three second seed clubs to Tier 1 and to allocate one of the three fourth seed clubs to Tier 2. The tiers are shown below. 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   Exeter Chiefs (1 AP)   Scarlets (1 Pro12)   Clermont (1 Top 14)   Wasps (2 AP)   Munster (2 Pro12)
Tier 2   Toulon (2 Top 14)   Saracens (3 AP)   Leinster (3 Pro12)   La Rochelle (3 Top 14)   Racing 92 (4 Top 14)
Tier 3   Leicester Tigers (4 AP)   Ospreys (4 Pro12)   Bath (5 AP)   Ulster (5 Pro12)   Montpellier (5 Top 14)
Tier 4   Harlequins (6 AP)   Glasgow Warriors (6 Pro12)   Castres (6 Top 14)   Benetton (7 Pro12)   Northampton Saints (Play-off)

The following restrictions will apply to the draw:

  • Each pool will consist of four clubs, one from each Tier in the draw.
  • Each pool must have one from each league drawn from Tier 1, 2 or 3. No pool will have a second team from the same league until the allocation of Tier 4 takes place.
  • Where two Pro12 clubs compete in the same pool, they must be from different countries.

Pool stageEdit

The draw took place on 8 June 2017, in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.[5][13]

Teams in the same pool play each other twice, at home and away, in the group stage that begins on the weekend of 13/14/15 October 2017, and continues through to 19/20/21 January 2018. The five pool winners and three best runners-up progress to the quarter finals.

Teams are awarded group points based on match performances. Four points are awarded for a win, two points for a draw, one attacking bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match and one defensive bonus point for losing a match by seven points or fewer.[14]

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, advance to quarter-finals.
     Three highest-scoring second-place teams advance to quarter-finals.

Pool 1Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  La Rochelle (5) 6 4 0 2 156 121 +35 18 17 3 1 20
  Wasps 6 3 0 3 154 121 +33 21 15 4 1 17
  Ulster 6 4 0 2 132 118 +14 15 15 1 0 17
  Harlequins 6 1 0 5 106 188 –82 15 22 2 1 7

Pool 2Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Clermont (2) 6 5 0 1 165 104 +61 16 14 2 0 22
  Saracens (8) 6 3 1 2 205 146 +59 24 13 3 1 18
  Ospreys 6 2 1 3 152 148 +4 18 16 3 2 15
  Northampton Saints 6 1 0 5 115 239 –124 16 31 2 0 6

Pool 3Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Leinster (1) 6 6 0 0 176 93 +83 22 12 3 0 27
  Exeter Chiefs 6 3 0 3 138 117 +21 18 14 1 2 15
  Montpellier 6 2 0 4 130 163 –33 18 23 3 2 13
  Glasgow Warriors 6 1 0 5 128 199 –71 18 27 2 1 7

Pool 4Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Munster (3) 6 4 1 1 167 87 +80 18 8 2 1 21
  Racing 92 (7) 6 4 0 2 128 105 +23 14 10 1 2 19
  Castres 6 2 1 3 111 161 –50 13 20 2 0 12
  Leicester Tigers 6 1 0 5 118 171 –53 12 19 1 2 7

Pool 5Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Scarlets (4) 6 4 0 2 162 123 +39 19 12 3 2 21
  Toulon (6) 6 4 0 2 159 125 +34 16 12 1 2 19
  Bath 6 4 0 2 151 121 +30 15 14 1 1 18
  Benetton 6 0 0 6 97 200 −103 12 25 2 2 4

Ranking of pool leaders and runners-upEdit

Rank Pool Leaders Pts Diff TF
1   Leinster 27 +83 22
2   Clermont 22 +61 16
3   Munster 21 +80 18
4   Scarlets 21 +39 19
5   La Rochelle 20 +35 18
Rank Pool Runners–up Pts Diff TF
6   Toulon 19 +34 16
7   Racing 92 19 +23 14
8   Saracens 18 +69 24
9   Wasps 17 +33 21
10   Exeter Chiefs 15 +21 18

Knock-out stageEdit

FormatEdit

The eight qualifiers were ranked according to their performance in the pool stage and competed in the quarter-finals which were held on the weekend of 30/31 March, 1 April 2018. The four top teams were at home in the quarter-finals against the four lower teams in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

The semi-finals were played on the weekend of 20/21/22 April 2018. 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 the home team would be designated based on "performances by clubs during the pool stages as well as the achievement of a winning a quarter-final match away from home". Semi-final matches must be played at a neutral ground in the designated home team's country.

Home country advantage was awarded as follows:[14]

BracketEdit

Quarter-finals Semi-finals Final
         
1   Leinster 30
8   Saracens 19
1   Leinster 38
4   Scarlets 16
4   Scarlets 29
5   La Rochelle 17
1   Leinster 15
7   Racing 92 12
2   Clermont 17
7   Racing 92 28
7   Racing 92 27
3   Munster 22
3   Munster 20
6   Toulon 19

Quarter-finalsEdit

30 March 2018
17:30
Scarlets   (4) 29–17 (5)   La Rochelle
Try: Patchell 60' c
S. Williams 75' c
Con: Halfpenny (2/2) 62', 76'
Pen: Halfpenny (5/6) 4', 11', 18', 25', 45'
Report Try: Sazy 8' c
Boudehent 80' c
Con: Balès (1/1) 9'
Noble (1/1) 80'
Pen: Balès (1/1) 40'
Parc y Scarlets
Attendance: 15,373[e]
Referee: Luke Pearce (RFU)
31 March 2018
15:15
Munster   (3) 20–19 (6)   Toulon
Try: Murray 27' c
Conway 74' c
Con: Keatley (2/2) 28', 75'
Pen: Keatley (2/2) 31', 55'
Report Try: Ashton 64' c
Con: Trinh-Duc (1/1) 65'
Pen: Belleau (1/1) 9'
Trinh-Duc (2/2) 60', 67'
Drop: Belleau (1/1) 18'
Thomond Park
Attendance: 26,265
Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)
1 April 2018
14:00
Clermont   (2) 17–28 (7)   Racing 92
Try: Betham 33' m
Pen: Parra (4/4) 5', 9', 17', 44'
Report Try: Nakarawa 24' c
Andreu 63' c
Palu 65' m
Con: Machenaud (2/3) 24', 63'
Pen: Machenaud (3/4) 31', 40', 41'
1 April 2018
15:30
Leinster   (1) 30–19 (8)   Saracens
Try: Ringrose 3' c
Leavy 46' c
Lowe 57' c
Con: Sexton (2/2) 3', 47'
McFadden (1/1) 58'
Pen: Sexton (3/3) 20', 33', 42'
Report Try: Cowan 63' c
Con: Farrell (1/1) 64'
Pen: Farrell (3/3) 11', 15', 26'
Bosch (1/1) 34'
Aviva Stadium
Attendance: 51,700
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (FFR)

Semi-finalsEdit

21 April 2018
15:30
Leinster   (1) 38–16 (4)   Scarlets
Try: J. Ryan 9' c
Healy 26' c
McFadden 39' c
Fardy 49' c
Sexton 59' c
Con: Sexton (5/5) 10', 27', 40', 51', 60'
Pen: Sexton (1/1) 18'
Report Try: Beirne 78' c
Con: Patchell (1/1) 79'
Pen: Halfpenny (3/3) 5', 21', 33'
Aviva Stadium
Attendance: 48,455
Referee: Romain Poite (FFR)
22 April 2018
16:15
Racing 92   (7) 27–22 (3)   Munster
Report
Stade Chaban-Delmas
Attendance: 24,574
Referee: JP Doyle (RFU)

FinalEdit

12 May 2018
17:45
Leinster   15–12   Racing 92
Pen: Sexton (3/3) 16', 38', 53'
Nacewa (2/2) 73', 78'
Report[16] Pen: Iribaren (4/5) 3', 21', 44', 70'
San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao
Attendance: 52,282
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

AttendancesEdit

  • Does not include the attendance at the final as it takes place at a neutral venue.
Club Home
Games
Total Average Highest Lowest % Capacity
  Bath 3 41,404 13,801 14,422 13,160 95%
  Benetton 3 10,900 3,633 5,000 2,600 54%
  Castres 3 26,515 8,838 9,577 8,400 71%
  Clermont 4 73,857 18,464 18,808 18,007 97%
  Exeter Chiefs 3 34,705 11,568 12,606 10,672 90%
  Glasgow Warriors 3 22,053 7,351 7,351 7,351 100%
  Harlequins 3 30,386 10,129 11,705 8,327 68%
  La Rochelle 3 48,000 16,000 16,000 16,000 100%
  Leicester Tigers 3 59,569 19,856 23,100 18,165 77%
  Leinster[17] 5 172,161 34,432 50,266 13,890 90%
  Montpellier 3 28,791 9,597 11,000 8,250 61%
  Munster 4 96,790 24,198 26,265 22,054 92%
  Northampton Saints 3 29,678 9,893 13,320 8,105 64%
  Ospreys 3 23,563 7,854 9,158 6,947 38%
  Racing 92[f] 4 59,129 14,782 24,574 9,067 64%
  Saracens 3 21,856 7,285 10,000 2,811 73%
  Scarlets 4 48,184 12,046 15,373 6,856 80%
  Toulon 3 40,912 13,637 13,882 13,489 75%
  Ulster 3 45,941 15,314 15,646 15,004 84%
  Wasps 3 38,861 12,954 13,124 12,806 40%

[18]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Castres' stadium was known as Stade Pierre-Antoine when the Champions Cup field was set. By the time of the opening round, the venue had been renamed after late club owner Pierre Fabre.[6]
  2. ^ Having announced in June 2017 that Rassie Erasmus will leave Munster in December 2017, Johann van Graan was appointed the new Director of Rugby in September 2017. He started his appointment in November 2017 ahead of Round 9.[7][8]
  3. ^ Jim Mallinder began the tournament as Northampton Saints' head coach, but stood down effective immediately on 12 December 2017. Attack coach Alan Dickens was promoted up to interim head coach.[9]
  4. ^ Racing 92 moved to U Arena on 22 December 2017; the new venue hosted Racing 92's final home pool game.[10]
  5. ^ The Scarlets usual capacity at the Parc y Scarlets is 14,870. The capacity was increased to 15,373 for this game via temporary seating in order to meet minimum standards required for a European knockout game at the quarter-final stage.[15]
  6. ^ Figures include semi-final 'home game' played at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Leinster beat Racing 92 15-12 to secure fourth title". BBC Sport. 12 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
  2. ^ "European club rugby finals to break new ground in 2018 and 2019". epcrugby.com.
  3. ^ "Edinburgh 2017 finals kick-off times and key 2017/18 dates". epcrugby.com.
  4. ^ a b c "Champions Cup play-offs". epcrugby.com.
  5. ^ a b c "Champions Cup qualification 2017/18 and play-offs". epcrugby.com.
  6. ^ "Castres : ce sera le Stade Pierre-Fabre" [Castres: it will be Stade Pierre-Fabre]. La Dépêche. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
  7. ^ "Munster confirm Rassie Erasmus departure to join South Africa". Telegraph. Telegraph. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  8. ^ "Johann van Graan is the new Munster Director of Rugby". Telegraph. Telegraph. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  9. ^ "JIM MALLINDER TO LEAVE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS". Northampton Saints. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
  10. ^ "Le stade Toulousain inaugurera "l'U Arena" contre le Racing après les Rolling Stones". France 3. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  11. ^ "Racing Family : U Arena" (in French). Racing 92. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  12. ^ http://archive.ercrugby.com/news/28791.php Archived 2014-10-31 at the Wayback Machine ERCRugby.com. Accessed 8 June 2014
  13. ^ "2017/18 Pool Draws produce top-quality fixtures". epcrugby.com. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
  14. ^ a b "Champions Cup Rules". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
  15. ^ "Preview: Parc y Scarlets to host biggest game to date as Wayne Pivac's men meet La Rochelle". Inside Wales Sport. 29 March 2018.
  16. ^ "Leinster lift fourth European Cup after 15-12 victory over Racing 92". European Professional Club Rugby. 12 May 2018. Archived from the original on 15 May 2018. Retrieved 15 May 2018.
  17. ^ Figures include semi-final 'home game' played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
  18. ^ "European Rugby Champions Cup 17/18 Home attendance". Rugby Statbunker. 1 April 2018.