Champions Cup holders, Saracens, will be looking to become only the second club in history to secure a European three-in-a-row when they kick off their 2017/18 campaign against long-time rivals, Northampton Saints, at Franklin’s Gardens on Sunday, 15 October.
The all-Aviva Premiership clash live on BT Sport is only one of a series of mouthwatering confrontations in the fixtures schedules for Rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup which have been announced by tournament organisers EPCR.
Scarlets, last season’s Guinness PRO12 winners, will travel with confidence to Stade Félix Mayol to take on the might of RC Toulon live on Sky Sports in a Sunday, 15 October fixture which will feature Leigh Halfpenny’s return to his old stamping ground.
Premiership champions, Exeter Chiefs, host Glasgow Warriors at Sandy Park on Saturday, 14 October in Pool 3, while last season’s tournament runners-up and TOP 14 winners, ASM Clermont Auvergne, continue their search for ultimate European glory against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday, 15 October.
🔊 FIXTURES ANNOUNCEMENT
The #ChampionsCup games are here, and there are some cracking games to start off
Which game catches your eye? ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/DswrvkeR9x
— Premiership Rugby (@premrugby) August 22, 2017
Ulster Rugby will be determined to improve on their 2016/17 pool stage performance when they go head-to-head with Wasps at the Kingspan Stadium in the opening Champions Cup tie of the season on Friday, 13 October, and Harlequins are up against tournament first-timers La Rochelle at The Twickenham Stoop the following day.
Highlights of the crucial back-to-back clashes include a repeat of last season’s final between Saracens and Clermont, while Leinster Rugby against Exeter is certain to pack them in to Dublin’s Aviva Stadium in Round 4 on Saturday, 16 December.
In addition, the December meetings of European warhorses, Leicester Tigers and Munster Rugby, as well as the match-ups between two more former tournament winners, Bath Rugby and Toulon, are guaranteed to heat up the pre-Christmas chill.
All 40 matches in Rounds 1 to 4 of the Champions Cup will be broadcast live in the UK and Ireland on either BT Sport or Sky Sports, and all games will be covered in France either live or delayed by beIN Sports and France Télévisions.
Holders Stade Francais Paris will open their Challenge Cup defence with an away trip to tournament newcomers Krasny Yar of Russia on Saturday, 14 October, and Switzerland will stage a Round 1 match when Oyonnax meet Connacht Rugby at the Stade de Genève on the same day.
The European season kicks off with the clash of last season’s defeated finalists, Gloucester Rugby, and Pau at Stade du Hameau on Thursday, 12 October live on Sky Sports.
The dates, kick-off times and TV coverage for the Round 5 and 6 fixtures in both tournaments will be announced in December following the completion of the Round 4 matches.
- The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup each consist of five pools of four clubs with the five pool winners and the three best runners-up qualifying for the knockout stages.
- The 40 clubs from eight countries in both tournaments have qualified on merit from Europe’s three leading professional leagues – the Aviva Premiership, Guinness PRO14 and TOP 14 – and from the Continental Shield.
- South African clubs competing in the Guinness PRO14 are not eligible for European tournaments.
- The Challenge Cup and Champions Cup finals will be staged at the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao on 11 and 12 May 2018.
- 2017/18 will be the 23rd season of European professional club rugby
Round 1: 12/13/14/15 October
Round 2: 19/20/21/22 October
Round 3: 7/8/9/10 December
Round 4: 14/15/16/17 December
Round 5: 11/12/13/14 January 2018
Round 6: 18/19/20/21 January 2018
Quarter-finals: 29/30/31 March – 1 April 2018
Semi-finals: 20/21/22 April 2018
2018 Bilbao Finals
Challenge Cup final: Friday 11 May, San Mamés Stadium
Champions Cup final: Saturday 12 May, San Mamés Stadium