Heineken Cup

From Academic Kids

The Heineken Cup sponsored by Heineken (known as the H Cup in France due to alcohol advertising laws) is an annual rugby union competition involving leading club, regional and provincial teams from England, France, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, and Italy.



The Heineken Cup began in 1995-96 with a dozen sides representing Ireland, Wales, Italy, Romania (though Romanian teams no longer take part) and France. English and Scottish teams did not compete until 1996-97 as they were already committed to their domestic schedules. From an inauspicious beginning in Romania, where Toulouse thrashed Farul Constanta 54-10 in front of a small crowd, the competition gathered momentum and crowds grew. Toulouse went on to become the first European rugby champions.

Brive won the next tournament and reached the final again in 1997-98 but were beaten late in the game by Bath with a penalty kick. However English clubs had decided to withdraw from the competition due to a dispute between European Rugby and the RFU over fixture scheduling and money.

Without English clubs the 1998-99 tournament revolved around the Celtic fringes, France and Italy. For the fourth consecutive year a French club, in the shape of Colomiers from the Toulouse suburbs, reached the final. But it was Ulster playing at Lansdowne Road, Dublin who carried home the trophy after a 21-6 win.

English clubs returned in 1999. The pool stages were spread over three months to allow the competition to develop alongside the nations’ own domestic competitions, and the knockout stages were scheduled to take the tournament into the early spring. The 1999-2000 competition was decided with a final between Munster and Northampton, with Northampton coming out on top by a single point.

Since then the tournament has gone from strength to strength with Leicester Tigers becoming the first side to successfully defend their title, beating Stade Francais in the 2001 final and Munster in 2002.

Toulouse's victory over French rivals Perpignan in 2003 meant that they joined the Tigers as the only teams to win the title twice.

The 2004 final saw English side London Wasps defeat Toulouse at Twickenham to win the Heineken Cup for the first time.

In the 2005 final, Toulouse became the first club to win the title three times by defeating another French club, Stade Franšais of Paris, at Murrayfield.

Heineken Cup qualification

Places in the Heineken Cup are allocated to the six competing nations on the following basis:

5 France, England

4 Wales

2 Ireland, Scotland and Italy

The remaining four places in the 24 team tournament are allocated on a meritocracy basis. No country can earn more than one meritocracy place and the extra places are based on performance by the clubs from each country. Nations who have a team that reaches the semi-finals are guaranteed an extra place the following season. If a country has more than one team in the semi-finals, then the criteria is based on quarter-final places and then Pool results.

Each nation sets its own criteria for qualification for the Heineken Cup. Clubs that do not qualify for the Heineken Cup can enter the European Rugby Shield.

From 2005 one team from each nation will be seeded.

Heineken Cup rules

Six pools of four teams play both home and away games. Four points are awarded for a win and two points for a draw.

A bonus point is awarded for a loss by seven points or fewer, or for scoring four tries or more.


The six Pool winners (ranked 1-6 by number of points scored) and two best placed runners-up (ranked 7 and 8) qualify for the Quarter-Finals.

Teams ranked 1-4 have home advantage. The Quarter-Finals are: Team 1 v Team 8; Team 2 v Team 7; Team 3 v Team 6; Team 4 v Team 5.

Semi-finals & Final

All matches are played at nominally neutral venues. Each of the two semi-final venues are in the country of the first team out of the hat when the draw is made. For example, in 2004, Munster v Wasps was played at Lansdowne Road in Dublin, while Toulouse v Biarritz was played in Bordeaux.

However, the "neutrality" requirement is satisfied simply by the designated "home" team playing outside of its normal stadium. Both 2005 semifinals were held in the host's home city; Leicester Tigers v Toulouse was held at Walkers Stadium in Leicester, not far from Leicester's normal home of Welford Road, while Stade Franšais v Biarritz was played at Parc des Princes in Paris, across the street from Stade's normal home field.

The final is held at a predetermined site.

2005/5 groups

Pool 1: Munster, Castres Olympique, Sale Sharks, Newport Gwent Dragons

Pool 2: Calvisano, Perpignan, Leeds Tykes, Cardiff Blues

Pool 3: Ospreys, Stade Francais, Leicester Tigers, Clermont Auvergne

Pool 4: Biarritz Olympique, Saracens, Ulster, Benetton Treviso

Pool 5: Glasgow, Bourgoin, Bath, Leinster

Pool 6: London Wasps, Toulouse, Llanelli Scarlets, Edinburgh


By Year

By Total Wins

Ranking Club Times won
1 Toulouse 3
2 Leicester Tigers 2
3= Bath 1
3= Brive 1
3= Northampton Saints 1
3= Ulster 1
3= Wasps 1

See Also

External links

Heineken Cup | Parker Pen Challenge Cup | Parker Pen Shield

Heineken Cup Results
2005/6 | 2004/05 | 2003/04 | 2002/03 | 2001/02 | 2000/01 | 1999/2000 | 1998/99 | 1997/98 | 1996/97 | 1995/96

fr:Coupe d'Europe de rugby

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