|2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup|
|Tournament format(s)||Round-robin and Knockout|
|Date||16 October 2014 – 1 May 2015|
|Attendance||391,649 (5,846 per match)|
|Tries scored||395 (5.9 per match)|
|Top point scorer(s)||Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh)|
|Top try scorer(s)||Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues)|
|Venue||The Stoop, Twickenham|
|Champions||Gloucester (2nd title)|
The 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup was the first season of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the annual rugby union competition. It is the 19th season of second tier pan-European club competition in general, as the competition replaces the European Challenge Cup. The competition began with the first round of the group stage, on the weekend of 16 October 2014, and ended with the final on 1 May 2015 at the Twickenham Stoop.
Gloucester became the first ever champions of the newly formatted competition, beating Edinburgh, who became the first ever Scottish team to make a European final, 19–13, with 14 men on the pitch for the final 17 minutes with center Bill Meakes being sent off because of a dangerous high tackle of the ball on Edinburgh center Sam Beard.
Twenty teams qualified 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:
So far, the following 18 teams have qualified.
|Aviva Premiership||Top 14||Pro12||Qualifying Competition|
|England||France||Ireland||Italy||Scotland||Wales||Other European Nations|
The following teams took part in the play-off to decide the final team in the Champions Cup. The play-off was held between the 7th placed teams in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. The loser of this play-off joined the Challenge Cup.
|Aviva Premiership||Top 14|
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.
The draw took place on 6 May 2014, in Heathrow. Following the draw, the fixtures were announced as follows:
Stade Français lost the play-off 35-50 on aggregate, and will play in the Challenge Cup.
On 14 August 2014, EPCR announced the format for the first qualifying competition.
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
20 September 2014
|Rovigo Delta||22–18||Tbilisi Caucasians|
27 September 2014
|Tbilisi Caucasians||21–24||Rovigo Delta|
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
20 September 2014
27 September 2014
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.
Director of Rugby
|Captain||Stadium||Capacity||Method of Qualification|
|Bayonne|| Patricio Noriega
|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|| Paul John
(For Mark Hammett)[a]
|Matthew Rees||BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park||12,500||Pro12 bottom 5 (7th)|
|Connacht||Pat Lam||John Muldoon||Sportsgrounds||7,800||Pro12 bottom 5 (10th)|
|Edinburgh||Alan Solomons||Mike Coman||Murrayfield Stadium||12,464[b]||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
|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-Mathon||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
renamed Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in January 2015
|5,000||Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)|
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. 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|
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)|
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.
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.
In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers are used, as directed by EPCR:
|Winner of each pool, advance to quarter-finals.|
|Three highest-scoring second-place teams advance to quarter-finals.|
|London Irish (4)||6||5||0||1||220||123||+97||30||11||4||0||24|
|Cardiff Blues (6)||6||5||0||1||249||95||+154||35||10||4||0||24|
|Exeter Chiefs (2)||6||5||0||1||212||97||+115||26||11||4||1||25|
|Newport Gwent Dragons (3)||6||5||0||1||240||127||+113||31||15||4||1||25|
|Newcastle Falcons (7)||6||4||0||2||208||149||+59||29||20||4||1||21|
|3||Newport Gwent Dragons||25||31||+113|
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.
3 April 2015
|Try: Sharples 20' c
Meakes 30' c
Con: Laidlaw (2/2) 21', 31'
|Report||Try: Penalty try 65' c|
Con: Carty (1/1) 66'
4 April 2015
|Newport Gwent Dragons||25–21||Cardiff Blues|
|Try: Amos 35' c
Cudd 45' m
Penalty try 50' c
Con: Prydie (2/3) 35', 51'
Pen: Prydie (1/3) 8'
D. Jones (1/1) 67'
|Report||Try: L. Williams 4' c|
Anscombe 25' c
Navidi 74' c
Con: Anscombe (3/3) 5', 26', 74'
4 April 2015
|Exeter Chiefs||48–13||Newcastle Falcons|
|Try: Ewers 12' c
Penalty try 19' c
Waldrom 41' c
McGuigan 58' c
Hill 69' c
Mumm 71' c
Con: Slade (4/4) 13', 20', 41', 58'
Steenson (2/2) 70', 73'
Pen: Slade (2/2) 35', 54'
|Report||Try: Harris 66' c|
Con: Catterick (1/1) 68'
Pen: Catterick (2/2) 33', 39'
5 April 2015
|Try: Gilsenan 40' c
Steele 52' m
Con: Geraghty (1/2) 40'
Pen: Geraghty (2/4) 32', 45'
|Report||Try: Nel 10' c|
McKenzie 59' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (2/2) 11', 61'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (3/3) 1', 18', 20'
17 April 2015
|Edinburgh||45–16||Newport Gwent Dragons|
|Try: McInally 14' c
Visser 22' m
B. Toolis 54' c
Hidalgo-Clyne 60' c
Fife 67' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (4/5) 16', 56', 61', 69'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (4/5) 10', 33', 40+2', 58'
|Report||Try: Harris 43' c|
Con: D. Jones (1/1) 44'
Pen: D. Jones (3/3) 3', 18', 30'
18 April 2015
|Try: Meakes 30' c
Savage 67' c
May 77' c
Con: Laidlaw (3/3) 31', 68', 78'
Pen: Laidlaw (2/3) 17', 71'
Hook (1/1) 38'
|Report||Try: Taione 75' c|
Con: Steenson (1/1) 76'
Pen: Slade (4/4) 20', 40', 45', 60'
1 May 2015
|Try: Ford 65' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (1/1) 65'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (2/3) 2', 35'
|Report||Try: Twelvetrees 10' c|
Con: Laidlaw (1/1) 11'
Pen: Laidlaw (4/5) 8', 36', 49', 53'