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 format(s)||Round-robin and knockout|
|Date||13 October 2017 – 12 May 2018|
|Attendance||1,005,537 (15,008 per match)|
|Highest attendance||52,282 – Leinster v Racing 92|
(12 May 2018)
|Lowest attendance||2,600 – Benetton v Scarlets|
(16 December 2017)
|Tries scored||366 (5.46 per match)|
|Top point scorer(s)||Owen Farrell (Saracens)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Dan Evans (Ospreys)|
|Venue||San Mamés Stadium, Bilbao|
|Champions||Leinster (4th title)|
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. This was Leinster's fourth title, tying the record for the most successful team in the competition's history. This was the first time the final was held outside one of the Six Nations countries.
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|
20th team play-offEdit
Four clubs competed in a play-off to decide the final team in the Champions Cup.
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:
|Aviva Premiership||Top 14||Pro12|
|Northampton Saints||Stade Français||Connacht||Cardiff Blues|
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.
19 May 2017
|Stade Français||46 – 21||Cardiff Blues|
20 May 2017
|Northampton Saints||21 – 15||Connacht|
26 May 2017
|Northampton Saints||23 – 22||Stade Français|
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 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.
|4||Racing 92||Leicester Tigers||Ospreys|
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.
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.
In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers will be 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.|
|La Rochelle (5)||6||4||0||2||156||121||+35||18||17||3||1||20|
|Racing 92 (7)||6||4||0||2||128||105||+23||14||10||1||2||19|
Ranking of pool leaders and runners-upEdit
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:
30 March 2018
|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'
31 March 2018
|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'
1 April 2018
|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
|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'
21 April 2018
|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'
22 April 2018
|Racing 92 (7)||27–22||(3) Munster|
- Does not include the attendance at the final as it takes place at a neutral venue.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Racing 92 moved to U Arena on 22 December 2017; the new venue hosted Racing 92's final home pool game.
- 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.
- Figures include semi-final 'home game' played at the Stade Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux.
- "Leinster beat Racing 92 15-12 to secure fourth title". BBC Sport. 12 May 2018. Retrieved 22 May 2018.
- "European club rugby finals to break new ground in 2018 and 2019". epcrugby.com.
- "Edinburgh 2017 finals kick-off times and key 2017/18 dates". epcrugby.com.
- "Champions Cup play-offs". epcrugby.com.
- "Champions Cup qualification 2017/18 and play-offs". epcrugby.com.
- "Castres : ce sera le Stade Pierre-Fabre" [Castres: it will be Stade Pierre-Fabre]. La Dépêche. 12 August 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2017.
- "Munster confirm Rassie Erasmus departure to join South Africa". Telegraph. Telegraph. 30 June 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
- "Johann van Graan is the new Munster Director of Rugby". Telegraph. Telegraph. 29 September 2017. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
- "JIM MALLINDER TO LEAVE NORTHAMPTON SAINTS". Northampton Saints. 12 December 2017. Retrieved 23 December 2017.
- "Le stade Toulousain inaugurera "l'U Arena" contre le Racing après les Rolling Stones". France 3. 24 August 2017. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
- "Racing Family : U Arena" (in French). Racing 92. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
- http://archive.ercrugby.com/news/28791.php Archived 2014-10-31 at the Wayback Machine ERCRugby.com. Accessed 8 June 2014
- "2017/18 Pool Draws produce top-quality fixtures". epcrugby.com. 8 June 2017. Retrieved 9 June 2017.
- "Champions Cup Rules". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2017-05-08.
- "Preview: Parc y Scarlets to host biggest game to date as Wayne Pivac's men meet La Rochelle". Inside Wales Sport. 29 March 2018.
- "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.
- Figures include semi-final 'home game' played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
- "European Rugby Champions Cup 17/18 Home attendance". Rugby Statbunker. 1 April 2018.