2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup

2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
France
Ireland
Italy
Scotland
Wales
Romania
Tournament format(s) Round-robin and Knockout
Date 16 October 2014 – 1 May 2015
Tournament statistics
Teams 20
Matches played 30
Attendance 169,256 (5,642 per match)
Tries scored 174 (5.8 per match)
Top point scorer(s) Greig Laidlaw (Gloucester)
(43 points)
Top try scorer(s) Danie Poolman (Connacht)
(Topsy Ojo (London Irish)
Charlie Sharples (Gloucester)
(3 tries)
Final
Venue The Stoop, Twickenham
Official website EPCR Website
2013–14 (Previous) (Next) 2015–16

The 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup is the first season of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the upcoming annual rugby union club competition for teams from the top six nations in European rugby. It will replace the European Challenge Cup as Europe's second-tier competition for rugby clubs.[1] The competition is scheduled to begin with the first round of the group stage, on the weekend of 16 October 2014, and will end with the final on 1 May 2015 at the The Twickenham Stoop.[2][3]

Teams

Twenty teams will qualify for the 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup, based on their performance in their respective domestic leagues the previous season. The distribution of teams is as follows:[1]

  • France: 8 teams
    • 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)
    • There will be an 8th team from France, as Stade Français lost the 7th Place play-off for entry into the European Rugby Champions Cup. (1 team)
  • Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales: 5 teams
  • Other European Nations: 2 teams
    • Two teams will qualify through the Qualifying Competition, which will take place in September.[3]

So far, the following 18 teams have qualified.

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

Champions Cup Play-off

The following teams took part in the play-off to decide the final team in the Champions Cup. The play-off was be held between the 7th placed teams in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. The loser of this play-off joins the Challenge Cup.
Aviva Premiership Top 14
England France
Wasps Stade Français

On 29 April 2014, it was announced that this play-off would take place over two legs, on the weekends of 17/18 May and 24/25 May, with a draw being used to determine home advantage for each leg.[5]

The draw took place on 6 May 2014, in Heathrow. Following the draw, the fixtures were announced as follows:[6]

18 May 2014
15:00 BST
Wasps 30–29 Stade Français
24 May 2014
14:45 CEST
Stade Français 6–20 Wasps

Stade Français lost the play-off 35-50 on aggregate, and will play in the Challenge Cup.

Qualifying Competition

On 14 August 2014, EPCR announced the format for the first qualifying competition.[7]

Given the amount of time until the start of the Challenge Cup, it was announced that this first competition will consist of 2 two-legged matches, with the aggregate winner of each taking a place in either pool. The first legs took place on 20 September, with the return legs taking place on 27 September

Rugby Europe 1 Play-off

20 September 2014
16:00 CEST
Rovigo Delta 22–18 Tbilisi Caucasians
Stadio Mario Battaglini
Referee: Lloyd Lynton (SRU)
27 September 2014
17:00 GET
Tbilisi Caucasians 21–24 Rovigo Delta
Stadium Avchala
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
  • Rovigo Delta won the play-off 46 - 39 on aggregate, and qualify for Pool 1.

Rugby Europe 2 Play-off

20 September 2014
21:00 EEST
București Wolves 18–13 Calvisano
Stadium Arcul de Triumf
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)
27 September 2014
19:30 CEST
Calvisano 13–10 București Wolves
Peroni Stadium
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (FFR)

Team details

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
Bayonne Patricio Noriega
Nicolas Morlaes
David Roumieu Stade Jean Dauger 17,000 Top 14 7th-12th (10th)
Bordeaux Bègles Raphaël Ibañez Matthew Clarkin Stade André Moga 10,000 Top 14 7th-12th (8th)
Brive Nicolas Godignon Arnaud Méla Stade Amédée-Domenech 16,000 Top 14 7th-12th (9th)
București Wolves Lynn Howells Stelian Burcea Arcul de Triumf Stadium 5,500 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
Cardiff Blues Mark Hammett Matthew Rees BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park 12,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (7th)
Connacht Pat Lam John Muldoon Sportsgrounds 9,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (10th)
Edinburgh Alan Solomons Mike Coman BT Murrayfield Stadium 12,464[1] Pro12 bottom 5 (8th)
Exeter Chiefs Rob Baxter Dean Mumm Sandy Park 10,744 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (8th)
Gloucester David Humphreys Billy Twelvetrees Kingsholm Stadium 16,500 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (9th)
Grenoble Fabrice Landreau Fabien Gengenbacher Stade des Alpes 20,000 Top 14 7th-12th (11th)
La Rochelle Patrice Collazo
Fabrice Ribeyrolles
Uini Atonio Stade Marcel-Deflandre 12,500 2013–14 Rugby Pro D2 promotion play-off winner
London Irish Brian Smith George Skivington Madejski Stadium 24,250 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (10th)
London Welsh Justin Burnell Tom May Kassam Stadium 12,500 2013–14 RFU Championship Champion
Lyon Tim Lane Lionel Nallet Matmut Stadium 8,000 2013–14 Rugby Pro D2 Champion
Newcastle Falcons Dean Richards Will Welch Kingston Park 10,200 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (11th)
Newport Gwent Dragons Lyn Jones Lee Byrne Rodney Parade 11,676 Pro12 bottom 5 (9th)
Oyonnax Christophe Urios Florian Denos Stade Charles-Mathonl 11,400 Top 14 7th-12th (12th)
Rovigo Delta Filippo Frati Luke Mahoney Stadio Mario Battaglini 6,000 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
Stade Français Gonzalo Quesada Sergio Parisse Stade Jean-Bouin 20,000 7th Place play-off loser
Zebre Andrea Cavinato Marco Bortolami Stadio XXV Aprile 5,000 Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)

Seeding

The 20 competing teams will be seeded and split into four tiers, seeding will be based on performance in their respective domestic leagues. Where promotion and relegation is in effect in a league, the promoted team will be seeded last, or (if multiple teams are promoted) by performance in the lower tier.[8] So, Lyon – who were Pro D2 champions – will be the seventh Top 14 seed while La Rochelle – who qualified through the Pro D2 play-off – will be the eighth seed.

As with the previous European competition, the European Challenge Cup, teams from the same country will be kept apart where possible. However, as 8 teams have qualified from France, 3 pools will contain two French teams – Oyonnax, Lyon and La Rochelle.

For the purposes of creating the tiers, the clubs are ranked based on their finishing positions in the Top 14, Aviva Premiership, Pro12 and PRO D2 Leagues, or on their qualification via a play-off.

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro 12 Qualifying Competition
1 Stade Français Exeter Chiefs Cardiff Blues Rovigo Delta
2 Bordeaux Bègles Gloucester Edinburgh București Wolves
3 Brive London Irish Newport Gwent Dragons
4 Bayonne Newcastle Falcons Connacht
5 Grenoble London Welsh Zebre
6 Oyonnax
7 Lyon
8 La Rochelle

Teams will be taken from a league in order of rank and put into a tier. A draw is used allocate two second seeds to Tier 1, the remaining team will go into Tier 2. This allocation then determines which fourth seeded team enters Tier 2, while the others enter 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 are automatically included in Tier 4, despite officially being ranked 1/2 from that competition.

The brackets show each teams seeding and their league (for example, 1 Top 14 indicates the team has been seeded 1st from the Top 14).
Tier 1 Cardiff Blues (1 Pro12) Exeter Chiefs (1 AP) Stade Français (1 Top 14) Gloucester (2 AP) Edinburgh (2 Pro12)
Tier 2 Bordeaux Bègles (2 Top 14) Brive (3 Top 14) London Irish (3 AP) Newport Gwent Dragons (3 Pro12) Bayonne (4 Top 14)
Tier 3 Newcastle Falcons (4 AP) Connacht (4 Pro12) FC Grenoble (5 Top 14) London Welsh (5 AP) Zebre (5 Pro12)
Tier 4 Oyonnax (6 Top 14) Lyon (7 Top 14) La Rochelle (8 Top 14) Rovigo Delta (Rugby Europe 1) București Wolves (Rugby Europe 2)

Pool stage

The draw took place on 10 June 2014, at the Stade de la Maladière in Neuchâtel.[9]

Teams will play each other twice, both at home and away, in the group stage, that will begin on the weekend of 16/17/18/19 October 2014, and continue through to 22/23/24/25 January 2015, before the pool winners and three best runners-up progress to the quarter finals.[10][2]

Fixtures were announced on Thursday 14 August 2014 at 2pm.

Teams are 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.[11]

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

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

    Pool 1

    Team
    P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
    Cardiff Blues 3 3 0 0 94 46 +48 13 5 2 0 14
    London Irish 3 2 0 1 109 53 +56 16 5 2 0 10
    Grenoble 3 1 0 2 105 70 +35 10 10 1 0 5
    Rovigo Delta 3 0 0 3 40 171 -131 5 24 0 0 0

    Pool 2

    Team
    P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
    Exeter Chiefs 3 2 0 1 93 53 +40 11 5 2 1 11
    Connacht 3 2 0 1 103 64 +39 13 8 2 0 10
    La Rochelle 3 1 0 2 47 97 −50 6 12 0 0 4
    Bayonne 3 1 0 2 62 91 –29 5 10 0 0 4

    Pool 3

    Team
    P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
    Newcastle Falcons 3 3 0 0 103 68 +35 14 8 2 0 14
    Newport Gwent Dragons 3 2 0 1 101 62 +39 12 5 2 1 11
    Stade Français 3 1 0 2 58 77 –19 4 8 0 1 5
    București Wolves 3 0 0 3 38 93 −55 4 13 0 1 1

    Pool 4

    Team
    P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
    Edinburgh 3 3 0 0 65 43 +22 6 4 0 0 12
    Bordeaux Bègles 3 2 0 1 102 64 +38 13 6 2 1 11
    Lyon 3 1 0 2 74 80 -6 8 8 1 0 5
    London Welsh 3 0 0 3 51 105 −54 5 14 0 0 0

    Pool 5

    Team
    P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
    Gloucester 3 3 0 0 115 25 +90 12 2 2 0 14
    Oyonnax 3 2 0 1 78 71 +7 6 6 0 0 8
    Zebre 3 1 0 2 60 89 −29 6 10 0 0 4
    Brive 3 0 0 3 43 101 −68 6 12 0 1 1

    Seeding and runners-up

    Seed Pool Winners Pts TF +/−
    1 Newcastle Falcons 14 14 +35
    2 Cardiff Blues 14 13 +48
    3 Gloucester 14 12 +90
    4 Edinburgh 12 6 +22
    5 Exeter Chiefs 11 11 +40
    Seed Pool Runners–up Pts TF +/−
    6 Bordeaux Bègles 11 13 +38
    7 Newport Gwent Dragons 11 12 +39
    8 London Irish 10 16 +56
    9 Connacht 10 13 +39
    10 Oyonnax 8 6 +7

    Knock-out stage

    The eight qualifiers will be seeded according to performance in the pool stage, and compete in the quarter-finals, which will be held on the 3/4/5 April 2015. The four top seeds will host the quarter-finals against the lower seeds, in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

    The semi-finals, to be contested by the quarter-final winners, will take place on the weekend of 17/18/19 April 2015.

    The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, at The Twickenham Stoop, on the weekend of 1 May 2015.[3]

    Quarter-finals

    3/4/5 April 2015
    1st Seed v 8th Seed

    3/4/5 April 2015
    2nd Seed v 7th Seed

    3/4/5 April 2015
    3rd Seed v 6th Seed

    3/4/5 April 2015
    4th Seed v 5th Seed

    Semi-finals

    17/18/19 April 2015
    TBC Quarter-final winner v TBC Quarter-final winner

    17/18/19 April 2015
    TBC Quarter-final winner v TBC Quarter-final winner

    Final

    1 May 2015
    19:45 BST
    Winner Semi-final 1 v Winner Semi-final 2

    See also

    Notes

    1. ^ Although Murrayfield's full capacity is 67,800, only the lower section of the West Stand, with a capacity of 12,464, is generally opened for Edinburgh fixtures.

    References

    1. ^ a b "Future of European Rugby resolved" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 10 April 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014. 
    2. ^ a b EPCRugby.com - 10 things you may not know about EPCR
    3. ^ a b c Inaugural EPCR finals set for London
    4. ^ "Minimum Standards Criteria audit results" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 9 May 2014. Retrieved 9 May 2014. 
    5. ^ Rugby Union - Anglo-French play-off dates announced, AFP 29/5/2014
    6. ^ European Rugby Champions Cup play-off draw, Premiership Rugby
    7. ^ http://www.epcrugby.com/eng/news/28897.php
    8. ^ http://archive.ercrugby.com/news/28791.php ERCRugby.com. Accessed 8 June 2014
    9. ^ Irish Times - Rugby’s European Champions Cup draw to place on June 10th. Accessed 31/5/14
    10. ^ EPCRugby.com - 2014/15 EPCR Pool Draws
    11. ^ EPCR Competition Rules