2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup
|2018–19 Heineken Champions Cup|
|Tournament format(s)||Round-robin and knockout|
|Date||12 October 2018 – 11 May 2019|
|Attendance||644,226 (12,885 per match)|
|Highest Attendance||40,261 - Leinster v Bath|
(15 December 2018)
|Lowest Attendance||6,383 - Newcastle v Montpellier|
(21 October 2018)
|Tries scored||291 (5.82 per match)|
|Top point scorer(s)|| Joey Carbery (Munster)|
|Top try scorer(s)|| Jacob Stockdale (Ulster)|
|Venue||St James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne|
The 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup (known as the Heineken Champions Cup for sponsorship reasons) is the fifth season of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the annual club rugby union competition run by European Professional Club Rugby (ECPR) for teams from the top six nations in Europe. It is the 24th season of pan-European professional club rugby competition. This competition will be the first to be sponsored by Heineken since the 2013–14 season.
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.
- Champions Cup winner, if not already qualified
- Challenge Cup winner, if not already qualified
- Challenge Cup losing finalist, if not already qualified
- Challenge Cup semi-finalist, if not already qualified, or the winner of a play-off between both semi-finalists, if both have not already qualified
- Highest ranked non-qualified club by virtue of league position from the same league as the Champions Cup winner
The distribution of teams is:
- England: 7 clubs
- France: 6 clubs
- The top 6 clubs in the Top 14. (6 clubs)
- Ireland, Scotland & Wales: 7 clubs, based on performance in the Pro14.
- Following the inclusion of 2 South African teams into the Pro14, the tournament format and qualification process was changed.
- The top 3 sides in each Pro14 conference (not including the South African sides, who are not eligible for European competition), automatically qualify for the Champions Cup. The previous requirement for each country (Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales) to be represented was waived beginning with this season. (6 Teams)
- The next best placed eligible team in each conference compete in a one-off play-off game to determine the 7th Pro14 team. (1 Team)
The following teams qualified for the 2018–19 tournament.
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, QF for losing Quarter-finalist, and PO for the Pro14 7th place play-off winner.
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. For example, a losing quarter-finalist would be seeded below a losing semi-finalist, even if they finished above them in the regular season.
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).
The following restrictions will apply to the draw:
Teams in the same pool play each other twice, at home and away, in the group stage that begins on the weekend of 12-14 October 2018, and continues through to 18-20 January 2019. 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:
Ranking of pool leaders and runners-up