European Professional Club Rugby
|Chairman||Simon Halliday (From 4 May 2015)|
|CEO||Vincent Gaillard (From 1 July 2015)|
|Replaced||European Rugby Cup (ERC)|
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the governing body and organiser of the two major European rugby union club tournaments: the European Rugby Champions Cup and the European Rugby Challenge Cup. A third tournament, the European Rugby Challenge Cup Qualifying Competition was introduced as a qualification competition for clubs from minor nations to enter the Challenge Cup. EPCR shared control of this tournament with Rugby Europe, the international federation for rugby union in Europe, and with the Italian Rugby Federation (FIR). The tournament was discontinued after the 2018–19 season.
The organisation was established in 2014 in Neuchâtel, Switzerland and is now headquartered in Lausanne. Switzerland was chosen so as not to have the headquarters in any of the six participating countries.
EPCR has nine major shareholders – the six tier 1 unions whose national teams play in the Six Nations Championship, and the three club bodies that represent English, French and Welsh teams in their respective leagues.
The inaugural competitions were held in the 2014–15 season.
Prior to 2014, the pan-European club competitions - the Heineken Cup, and European Challenge Cup - were organised and run by European Rugby Cup Ltd. (ERC). ERC was created in 1995, following the advent of professionalism, by the then Five Nations Committee.
In 2012, Premiership Rugby and LNR, on behalf of the English and French clubs respectively, notified ERC that they would be withdrawing from the accord governing the competition, being dissatisfied with the organisation of the competition and the distribution of funding. Premiership Rugby subsequently refused to join any new agreement in which ERC remained organisers of European rugby tournaments.
On April 10, 2014 it was announced that the nine shareholders with an interest in continuing major European club competition had come to an agreement for new competitions. Under the new agreement, ERC was wound up, and a new body, European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR), would be created to organise three new competitions, European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup, and the third tier Qualifying Competition, beginning with the 2014-15 season.
Shortly after the establishment of EPCR, it was announced that the running of the inaugural 2014–15 tournament was to be handled in conjunction with ERC, the organisation it had been meant to replace, to facilitate a smooth transition. This was despite the latter having been described by chairman of Premiership Rugby, Quentin Smith, as "no longer fit for purpose". This was described as "something of an about-turn" by The Daily Telegraph.
Since the 2015–16 season, EPCR staff have been running the competitions from their base in Neuchatel. In 2017 the qualifying competition was reconstituted as a fully fledged third competition, the European Rugby Continental Shield.
Board of Directors
EPCR is managed through a 12-person Board of Directors, which represents all shareholders, and includes an independent chairman. The nine shareholders, by country, are listed below:
- England - Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby Limited
- France - Fédération Française de Rugby, Ligue Nationale de Rugby
- Ireland - Irish Rugby Football Union
- Italy - Federazione Italiana Rugby
- Scotland - Scottish Rugby Union
- Wales - Welsh Rugby Union, Regional Rugby Wales
There is also an Executive Committee, in charge of commercial matters relating to the tournaments, and preparations for Board meetings. This committee includes the Independent Chairman, Director-General, and three voting representatives, one representing each of the major European domestic leagues, the Top 14, the English Premiership and Pro 12. Representation by English and French clubs on the three-person executive committee represents an increase in voting power for these two leagues as compared to the previous European Rugby Cup.
The three voting members of the executive are:
Jacques Pineau became the interim Director General of EPCR when the tournament began, and was responsible for the day-to-day operations of EPCR. On 29 April 2015, it was announced that Swiss national Vincent Gaillard had been appointed the Director General, and would work with Pineau until 1 July 2015, when he would officially take on the role.
Revenues generated by EPCR tournaments will be divided in three equal parts — one third to English clubs, one third to French clubs, and one third to Pro12 clubs, but with a minimum distribution guarantee for Pro12 clubs during the first five years. Under the previous European Rugby Cup, the Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Italian clubs had received 52% of revenues, while the English and French clubs received 48%.
European Player of the Year
The European Player Award was introduced by ERC in 2010, as part of their ERC15 awards, created to recognise the outstanding contributors of the first 15 years of European rugby. The first recipient of the award, considered the best player of the previous 15 years, was Munster Rugby's Ronan O'Gara. Following the award, and beginning with the 2010-11 Heineken Cup season, ERC began presenting a Player of the Year Award annually.
Following EPCR taking over the running of European Competitions, they continued the award, and the first EPCR European Player of the Year Award will be presented following the 2014-15 European Rugby Champions Cup season.
The most recent player to be awarded the accolade was Alex Goode in 2019.
ERC European Player of the Year (2010 - 2014)
- 2010: Ronan O'Gara (Munster Rugby) (Awarded for the previous 15 seasons)
- 2011: Seán O'Brien (Leinster Rugby)
- 2012: Rob Kearney (Leinster Rugby)
- 2013: Jonny Wilkinson (Toulon)
- 2014: Steffon Armitage (Toulon)
EPCR European Player of the Year (2015 - )
- 2015: Nick Abendanon (Clermont)
- 2016: Maro Itoje (Saracens)
- 2017: Owen Farrell (Saracens)
- 2018: Leone Nakarawa (Racing 92)
- 2019: Alex Goode (Saracens)
- 2020: Sam Simmonds (Exeter Chiefs)
EPCR Elite Awards
The Elite Awards were created by ERC, to celebrate the 10th anniversary season of the Heineken Cup. Introduced to recognise the most prominent teams and players of the competitions, EPCR has since maintained and continued the awards, updating them to include both Heineken Cup and European Rugby Champions Cup appearances.
Teams with 50 or more European Cup appearances
|Scarlets [n 1]||117||18||135|
|Cardiff Blues [n 2]||114||0||114|
|Montferrand / Clermont Auvergne||76||24||100|
Players with 100 or more European Cup caps
|Peter Stringer||Munster, Saracens, Bath, Sale Sharks||94||7||101|
|Updated 19 May 2017|
Players with 50 or more European Cup caps
The EPCR Elite Awards recognise any player who has won 50 or more European Cup caps. Given the length of this list, an abridged version recognising players with over 65 caps is included.
The full list can be found here.Rougerie
Players with 500 or more European Cup points
|Stephen Jones||Llanelli, Scarlets, Clermont Auvergne, Scarlets (2nd stint)||869||0||869|
|Diego Domínguez||Milan, Stade Français||645||0||645|
|Johnny Sexton||Leinster, Racing 92, Leinster (2nd stint)||434||101||535|
|Neil Jenkins||Pontypridd, Cardiff, Celtic Warriors||502||0||502|
|David Skrela||Colomiers, Stade Français, Toulouse, Clermont Auvergne||500||0||500|
|Updated 19 May 2017|
Players with 25 or more European Cup tries
|Chris Ashton||Northampton Saints, Saracens||23||16||39|
|Dafydd James||Pontypridd, Llanelli, Bridgend, Celtic Warriors, Harlequins, Scarlets, Cardiff Blues||29||0||29|
|Tommy Bowe||Ulster, Ospreys, Ulster (2nd stint)||24||4||28|
|Geordan Murphy||Leicester Tigers||25||0||25|
|Naipolioni Nalaga||Clermont Auvergne||23||2||25|
|Updated 19 May 2017|
- Official site
- "European Rugby Cup officials seconded to run the inaugural European Rugby Champions Cup", Telegraph, 9 July 2014.
- http://www.therugbypaper.co.uk/featured-post/15722/european-rugby-statement/ European Rugby Statement, The Rugby Paper, 10/4/14
- Future of European Rugby resolved, RFU.com Archived 2014-05-25 at the Wayback Machine
- Appointments of new Director General and Independent Chairman announced - EPCR
- EPCR Board
- The Guardian Northampton to face Racing, Ospreys and Treviso in European Cup - Accessed 16/6/14
- Inaugural EPCR finals set for London Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
- "Heads of disagreement: reflections on the European rugby debacle", Sports Pro, 11 April 2014.
- "The Anthony Foley Memorial Trophy". epcrugby.com.