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2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup

2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
 France
 Ireland
 Italy
 Russia
 Scotland
 Wales
Tournament format(s)Round-robin and Knockout
Date12 November 2015 – 13 May 2016
Tournament statistics
Teams20
Matches played61
Attendance334,108 (5,477 per match)
Highest Attendance28,556
Montpellier v Harlequins
13 May 2016
Lowest Attendance400
Enisey-STM v Newcastle Falcons
16 January 2016
Tries scored347 (5.69 per match)
Top point scorer(s)Benoît Paillaugue (Montpellier)
Rhys Patchell (Cardiff Blues)
(56 points)
Top try scorer(s)Marcus Watson (Newcastle Falcons)
(6 tries)
Final
VenueGrand Stade de Lyon, Lyon
ChampionsFrance Montpellier (1st title)
Runners-upEngland Harlequins
← 2014–15 (Previous)
(Next) 2016–17 →

The 2015–16 European Rugby Challenge Cup was the second edition of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, an annual pan-European rugby union competition for professional clubs. It is also the 20th season of the Challenge Cup competition in all forms, following on from the now defunct European Challenge Cup. Due to the 2015 Rugby World Cup taking place during September and October 2015, the competition began slightly later than usual, with the first round of the group stage, on the weekend of 12/13/14/15 November 2015, and ended with the final on 13 May 2016 in Lyon.[1][2]

Gloucester were the 2014 1–5 champions, having beaten Edinburgh 19–13 in the final.

Montpellier won the cup, defeating Harlequins in the final 26-19.[3][4]

Teams

20 teams qualified for the 2015–16 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 distribution of teams was:

  • England: 6
  • France: 7
    • 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)
  • Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales: 5 teams
  • Other European Nations: 2 teams

As of 24 May 2015, the following clubs qualified for the Challenge Cup:

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

Champions Cup play-off

The following teams took part in play-off matches to decide the final team in the Champions Cup. The play-off was held between Premiership side Gloucester, as Challenge Cup winners, and teams from the Pro12 and Top 14.

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro 12
England England France France Ireland Ireland
Gloucester Bordeaux Bègles Connacht

The play-off was a two-match series, with the winner of the first match progressing to the second, and the winner of that second match qualifying for the Champions Cup. The two losing sides both joined the Challenge Cup.

24 May 2015
15:30 GMT
Gloucester England 40–32
(a.e.t.)
Ireland Connacht
Report[5]
31 May 2015
17:00 GMT
Gloucester England 22−23 France Bordeaux Bègles
Report[6]
Sixways Stadium, Worcester
Attendance: 5,447
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU)

Qualifying Competition

In December 2014, EPCR announced an expanded format for the qualifying competition.

Six teams were to compete in two pools of three. Each team played the other once, either home or away. 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 1 Play-off

18 April 2015
Rovigo Delta Italy 17–17 Italy Calvisano


2 May 2015
Calvisano Italy 35−7 Italy Rovigo Delta

  • Calvisano won the play-off 52-24 on aggregate, and qualified for the Challenge Cup.

Pool 2 Play-off

18 April 2015
CSM Baia Mare Romania 20–30 Russia Enisey-STM


2 May 2015
Enisey-STM Russia 33–12 Romania CSM Baia Mare

  • Enisey-STM won the play-off 63-32 on aggregate, and competed in the Challenge Cup

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
France Agen France Philippe Sella France Lionel Mazars Stade Armandie 14,000 Pro D2 runner-up
France Brive France Nicolas Godignon France Arnaud Méla Stade Amédée-Domenech 16,000 Top 14 7th-12th (10th)
Italy Calvisano Italy Massimo Brunello Italy Tommaso Castello Centro Sportivo San Michele 4,000 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
Wales Cardiff Blues Wales Danny Wilson Wales Gethin Jenkins BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park 12,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (10th)
France Castres Olympique France Christophe Urios Uruguay Rodrigo Capo Ortega Stade Pierre-Antoine 11,500 Top 14 7th-12th (12th)
Ireland Connacht Samoa Pat Lam Ireland John Muldoon Sportsgrounds 7,800 7th Place play-off loser
Scotland Edinburgh South Africa Alan Solomons Scotland Mike Coman Murrayfield Stadium 67,144[a] Pro12 bottom 5 (8th)
Russia Enisey-STM Russia Alexander Pervukhin Latvia Jurijs Baranovs Central Stadium
Sochi Central Stadium
15,000
10,200
Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
England Gloucester Ireland David Humphreys England Billy Twelvetrees Kingsholm Stadium 16,500 7th Place play-off loser
France Grenoble France Fabrice Landreau France Fabien Gengenbacher Stade des Alpes 20,068 Top 14 7th-12th (11th)
England Harlequins Ireland Conor O'Shea England Danny Care Twickenham Stoop 14,816 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (8th)
France La Rochelle France Patrice Collazo France Uini Atonio Stade Marcel-Deflandre 15,000 Top 14 7th-12th (9th)
England London Irish New Zealand Tom Coventry England George Skivington Madejski Stadium 24,161 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (10th)
France Montpellier South Africa Jake White France Fulgence Ouedraogo Altrad Stadium 14,700 Top 14 7th-12th (8th)
England Newcastle Falcons England John Wells England Will Welch Kingston Park 10,200 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (11th)
Wales Newport Gwent Dragons Wales Lyn Jones Wales T. Rhys Thomas Rodney Parade 8,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (9th)
France Pau New Zealand Simon Mannix France Julien Pierre Stade du Hameau 13,819 Pro D2 Champion
England Sale Sharks England Steve Diamond New Zealand Daniel Braid AJ Bell Stadium 12,000 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (7th)
England Worcester Warriors England Dean Ryan South Africa Gerrit-Jan van Velze Sixways Stadium 12,024 2014–15 RFU Championship Champion
Italy Zebre Italy Gianluca Guidi Italy George Biagi Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi 5,000 Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)

Seeding

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.[7] So, Pau – who were Pro D2 champions – will be seeded above Agen – who qualified through the Pro D2 play-off.

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro 12 Qualifying Competition
1 France Montpellier England Sale Sharks Ireland Connacht Italy Calvisano
2 France La Rochelle England Harlequins Scotland Edinburgh Russia Enisey-STM
3 France Brive England Gloucester Wales Newport Gwent Dragons
4 France Grenoble England London Irish Wales Cardiff Blues
5 France Castres Olympique England Newcastle Falcons Italy Zebre
6 France Pau England Worcester Warriors
7 France Agen

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 Ireland Connacht (1 Pro12) England Sale Sharks (1 AP) France Montpellier (1 Top 14) France La Rochelle (2 Top 14) Scotland Edinburgh (2 Pro12)
Tier 2 England Harlequins (2 AP) Wales Newport Gwent Dragons (3 Pro12) England Gloucester (3 AP) France Brive (3 Top 14) England London Irish (4 AP)
Tier 3 France Grenoble (4 Top 14) Wales Cardiff Blues (4 Pro12) Italy Zebre (5 Pro12) England Newcastle Falcons (5 AP) France Castres Olympique (5 Top 14)
Tier 4 England Worcester Warriors (6 AP) France Pau (Top 14) France Agen (Top 14) Italy Calvisano (QC 1) Russia Enisey-STM (QC 2)

The draw for the Challenge Cup took place on 17 June 2015 in Neuchatel, Switzerland.[8]

The following restrictions applied to the draw:[8]

  • The 5 pools each consisted of four clubs, one from each of the 4 Tiers.
  • Each pool was required to have one Aviva Premiership club from Tier 1, 2 or 3, one Top 14 club from Tier 1, 2 or 3, and one Pro12 club from Tier 1, 2 or 3 (with the possibility of a second Aviva or Top 14 or Pro12 club coming from Tier 4).
  • If there were two PRO12 clubs in the same pool, they had to be from different countries. (There were 2 Welsh, 1 Irish, 1 Scottish and 1 Italian teams from the Pro12 this year.)
  • Similarly, the two Italian sides (Tier 3 Zebre from the Pro12 and Tier 4 Calvisano from the Qualifying Competition) could not be in the same pool.

Pool stage

The draw took place on 17 June 2015.[9]

Teams will play each other twice, both at home and away, in the group stage, that will begin on weekend of 12/13/14/15 November 2015, and continued through to 21/22/23/24 January 2016, before the pool winners and three best runners-up progressed to the quarter finals.[9]

Teams will be 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.[10]

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

Pool 1

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
Ireland Connacht (5) 6 4 0 2 147 96 +51 20 12 2 1 19
England Newcastle Falcons 6 3 0 3 137 97 +40 20 9 3 1 16
France Brive 6 3 0 3 114 88 +26 12 11 1 3 16
Russia Enisey-STM 6 2 0 4 63 180 –117 8 28 0 0 8

Pool 2

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
England Sale Sharks (3) 6 5 0 1 154 78 +76 20 9 3 0 23
Wales Newport Gwent Dragons (7) 6 4 0 2 151 117 +34 17 16 3 1 20
France Castres Olympique 6 3 0 3 124 136 –12 14 15 2 1 15
France Pau 6 0 0 6 68 166 –98 9 20 0 0 0

Pool 3

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
England Harlequins (1) 6 5 0 1 225 123 +102 31 13 5 0 25
France Montpellier (6) 6 4 0 2 221 116 +105 28 13 4 0 20
Wales Cardiff Blues 6 3 0 3 229 131 +98 31 14 4 1 17
Italy Calvisano 6 0 0 6 39 344 –305 3 53 0 0 0

Pool 4

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
England Gloucester (2) 6 6 0 0 151 86 +65 16 10 1 0 25
Italy Zebre 6 3 0 3 114 92 +22 11 12 0 1 13
France La Rochelle 6 2 0 4 100 127 –27 12 13 2 0 10
England Worcester Warriors 6 1 0 5 88 148 –60 9 14 0 1 5

Pool 5

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
France Grenoble (4) 6 5 0 1 187 154 +33 22 19 2 0 22
England London Irish (8) 6 3 0 3 170 106 +64 25 10 3 2 17
Scotland Edinburgh 6 4 0 2 125 103 +22 14 12 1 0 17
France Agen 6 0 0 6 98 217 –119 13 32 1 1 2

Pool winners and runners-up rankings

Rank Pool Winners Pts TF +/−
1 England Harlequins 25 31 +102
2 England Gloucester 25 16 +65
3 England Sale Sharks 23 20 +76
4 France Grenoble 22 22 +33
5 Ireland Connacht 19 20 +51
Rank Pool Runners–up Pts TF +/−
6 France Montpellier 20 28 +105
7 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 20 17 +34
8 England London Irish 17 25 +64
9 England Newcastle Falcons 16 20 +40
10 Italy Zebre 13 11 +22

Knock-out stage

The eight qualifiers will be ranked according to performance in the pool stages, and competed in the quarter-finals, which will be held on the weekend of 8/9/10 April 2016. The four top seeds will host the quarter-finals against the lower seeds, in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

The semi-finals will played on the weekend of 22/23/24 April 2016. 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, will be awarded as follows:[10]

The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, at Parc Olympique Lyonnais (called "Grand Stade de Lyon" by EPCR), on 13 May 2016.[2]

Quarter-finals

8 April 2016
19:45
Sale Sharks England (3) 19–25 (6) France Montpellier
Try: Brady 21' m
James 76' m
Pen: Cipriani (3/3) 11', 32', 61'
Report[11] Try: Willemse 14' c
Con: Paillaugue (1/1) 15'
Pen: Paillaugue (6/8) 17', 45', 55', 64', 67', 71'
AJ Bell Stadium
Attendance: 4,557
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
9 April 2016
12:45
Gloucester England (2) 21–23 (7) Wales Newport Gwent Dragons
Try: Morgan 13' m
McColl 63' c
Con: Laidlaw (1/2) 64'
Pen: Laidlaw (3/3) 19', 26', 71'
Report[12] Try: Davies 76' m
Pen: D. Jones (6/6) 9', 16', 32', 39', 44', 54'
Kingsholm Stadium
Attendance: 10,501
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (FFR)
9 April 2016
21:05
Grenoble France (4) 33–32 (5) Ireland Connacht
Try: Wisniewski 32' c
Dupont 61' c
Diaby 69' c
Con: Wisniewski (3/3) 33', 62', 70'
Pen: Wisniewski (3/3) 20', 37', 40'
Drop: Wisniewski (1/1) 75'
Report[13] Try: Adeolokun (2) 11' c, 28' c
Henshaw 22' m
Healy 42' c
Con: O'Leary (3/4) 12', 29', 43'
Pen: O'Leary (1/1) 53'
Cooney (1/1) 72'
Stade des Alpes
Attendance: 14,077
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
9 April 2016
20:05
Harlequins England (1) 38–30 (8) England London Irish
Try: Wallace (2) 6' m, 61' m
Care (3) 20' c, 52' m, 74' c
Con: Botica (2/5) 22', 76'
Pen: Botica (3/4) 26', 36', 71'
Report[14] Try: Mulchrone 27' c
McKibbin 44' c
Maitland 50' c
Con: Geraghty (3/3) 28', 45', 51'
Pen: Geraghty (3/3) 13', 24', 33'
Twickenham Stoop
Attendance: 9,851
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)

Semi-finals

22 April 2016
19:45
Harlequins England 30–6 France Grenoble
Try: Roberts 11' c
Evans 53' c
Lowe 68' c
Con: Botica (1/1) 12'
Evans (2/2) 54', 68'
Pen: Botica (2/2) 6', 17'
Evans (1/2) 66'
Report[15] Pen: Wisniewski (2/2) 15', 26'
Twickenham Stoop
Attendance: 10,563
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)
23 April 2016
18:30
Montpellier France 22–12 Wales Newport Gwent Dragons
Try: B. du Plessis 59' c
Con: Catrakilis (1/1) 60'
Pen: Catrakilis (4/4) 20', 28', 32', 54'
Paillaugue (1/1) 35'
Report[16] Try: Amos 61' m
Meyer 77' c
Con: O'Brien (1/2) 78'
Altrad Stadium
Attendance: 7,692
Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)

Final

13 May 2016
21:00
Harlequins England 19–26 France Montpellier
Try: Yarde 71' c
Con: Botica (1/1) 72'
Pen: Evans (3/3) 4', 31', 34'
Botica (1/1) 77'
Report[17] Try: Mogg 22' c, 47' c
Con: Catrakilis (2/2) 23', 48'
Pen: Catrakilis (4/4) 7', 28', 54', 67'
Grand Stade de Lyon, Lyon
Attendance: 28,556
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

Attendances

  • Does not include final as this is held at a neutral venue.
Club Home
Games
Total Average Highest Lowest % Capacity
France Agen 3 13,664 4,555 5,200 3,932 33%
France Brive 3 12,000 4,000 6,000 3,000 25%
Italy Calvisano 3 3,900 1,300 1,500 1,100 33%
Wales Cardiff Blues 3 15,341 5,114 5,490 4,602 41%
France Castres Olympique 3 20,421 6,807 7,580 6,025 59%
Ireland Connacht 3 12,964 4,321 4,357 4,261 55%
Scotland Edinburgh 3 9,915 3,305 3,551 3,100 5%
Russia Enisey-ETM 3 3,500 1,167 2,500 400 7%
England Gloucester 4 40,625 10,156 10,942 9,209 62%
France Grenoble 4 40,308 10,077 14,077 8,361 50%
England Harlequins 5 51,692 10,338 12,912 7,136 70%
France La Rochelle 3 31,863 10,621 12,763 8,500 71%
England London Irish 3 11,859 3,953 4,216 3,684 16%
France Montpellier 4 31,092 7,773 9,900 6,000 53%
England Newcastle Falcons 3 11,963 3,988 4,093 3,803 39%
Wales Newport Gwent Dragons 3 12,973 4,324 4,455 4,202 49%
France Pau 3 21,500 7,167 8,000 6,000 52%
England Sale Sharks 4 17,103 4,276 4,557 4,006 36%
England Worcester Warriors 3 18,032 6,011 6,774 5,124 50%
Italy Zebre 3 5,854 1,951 2,413 1,657 39%

[18]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ 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.

References

  1. ^ "Key 2015/16 EPCR dates and Champions Cup play-offs : EPCRugby.com | News | European Rugby Champions Cup". epcrugby.com. Retrieved 2015-05-02.
  2. ^ a b "Lyon to host 2016 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup finals with Edinburgh chosen for 2017". EPCRugby. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  3. ^ "Harlequins 19 Montpellier 26: Quins unable to give Conor O'Shea last hurrah in Challenge Cup final". Daily Telegraph. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  4. ^ "European Challenge Cup final: Harlequins 19-26 Montpellier". BBC Sport. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 16 May 2016.
  5. ^ "Champions Cup play-off: Gloucester 40-32 Connacht". 24 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
  6. ^ "European Rugby Champions Cup: Gloucester 22-23 Bordeaux-Begles". 31 May 2015. Retrieved 14 September 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  7. ^ "Watch the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup Pool Draws live : News | ERC | Official Website". ERCRugby.com. 7 June 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-10-31. Retrieved 8 June 2014.
  8. ^ a b European Rugby Pool Draws for 2015/16 season - EPCRugby.com
  9. ^ a b "European heavyweights to clash following 2015/16 Pool Draws". EPCRugby. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  10. ^ a b "EPCR Competition Rules". Archived from the original on 2015-05-04. Retrieved 2015-06-17.
  11. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-11-04. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  12. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-04-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  13. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  14. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-18. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  15. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-29. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  16. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  17. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup (ECPR)". epcrugby.com. Archived from the original on 2016-05-17. Retrieved 14 September 2017.
  18. ^ "European Rugby Challenge Cup 15/16 Home attendance". Rugby Statbunker. 9 April 2016.