EPCR reflects on a record-breaking European club rugby season

European professional club rugby tournaments have enjoyed a record-breaking 2018/19 season with attendances on the up in tandem with significantly increased television audiences, both domestically and worldwide.

Saracens’ memorable victory over Leinster Rugby in the Heineken Champions Cup final in Newcastle was screened in 170 countries with the live TV audience in the United Kingdom growing by more than 80% over the course of the season. The showpiece match was also shown live on network television in the USA where more than half a million viewers tuned in on NBC.

Meanwhile, more than one million fans passed through the turnstiles to watch stars of the global game contest the trophy recognised universally as The One to Win in the club game during another season of continued growth in the Heineken Champions Cup.

The million mark was surpassed with a sell-out crowd of 51,930 packing into St James’ Park for last month’s final as Saracens took their third title, and their first with the green ribbons back on the famous silverware following the return of leading global beer brand Heineken as title partners of Europe’s elite club tournament.

For the first time, more than half a million spectators attended matches throughout a thrilling season in the Challenge Cup, surpassing the previous best in the tournament set in 2016/17, with a year-on-year improvement of 17.4%.
A new landmark was also set for a tournament final attendance in the United Kingdom as 28,438 witnessed ASM Clermont Auvergne win a record-equalling third title with victory over La Rochelle. The healthy position of European club tournaments was underlined by a 5.6% increase in combined attendances across the Heineken Champions Cup and Challenge Cup during the 2018/19 season.

EPCR Chairman Simon Halliday, said: “The Heineken Champions Cup undoubtedly is the benchmark for club rugby around the world, featuring leading global stars in every single round. Fans have endorsed that view with their feet and with their remote controls thanks to the exceptional coverage and support of BT Sport, beIN SPORTS, France Télévisions, Channel 4, Virgin Media and NBC, as well as our various global broadcast partners. It all shows that European club rugby is going from strength to strength.”

The first steps on the Road to Marseille next season will be mapped out tomorrow with the 2019/20 Pool Draws in Lausanne which start at 1.00pm (UK and Irish time). Almost 30,000 tickets have already been sold for club rugby’s greatest weekend which will conclude with the 25th tournament final. Weekend and individual match tickets are available at www.epcrugby.com/tickets.