European Cup format for next season revealed


After various rumours of an imminent announcement last week, the details of how the European Cup will work next season have finally been released.


This was one of the key considerations for the new accord, with the English and French clubs particularly unhappy at having to qualify on merit whilst the PRO12 clubs could rest players and walk into the top flight Heineken Cup.

The new competition will consist of:

– Top 6 from Aviva Premiership
– Top 6 from Top 14
– Top 6 from Pro12
– 1 guest team from South Africa
– a Barbarians Invitational XV

“With a South African team on board, we can guarantee a larger global audience in order to deliver greater revenues for our product, which is the name of the game.”

“The inclusion of the Barbarians side will help provide a proving ground for International Barbarians selection, whilst helping to reconnect European Rugby fans with the spirit of rugby.” The press release continued, “we want the new European Cup to be full of colour and characters, and the ‘joie de vivre’ ethos of the Barbarians will help to bring the best entertainment to our screens.”

Television rights

Another big sticking point was that the English clubs had already sold the rights that they didn’t yet own to BT Sport, whilst Sky Sports had paid the ERC for rights that no longer exist.

The two companies have agreed to share rights in the UK, and will have a choice of matches to cover: BT Sport will choose three matches first, but can only pick from games involving English clubs. Sky Sports can then choose three matches from the rest, and the other games will be divided equally.

“We’re happy to share the rights with BT Sport, because they can only choose from the English teams” said a spokesman for Sky Sports. “We’ll probably end up with the matches we would have chosen anyway.”

Division of revenue

Finally, the English and French clubs are now happy that the revenues are being divided fairly. Under the previous accord, the PRO12 teams would receive a larger share of the revenue, despite drawing smaller audiences and not even having to qualify.

“Negotiations have naturally been complicated, but we feel we’ve reached the fairest method to share revenues according to the product we are each delivering on the pitch.”

It is indeed complicated, but here is how it will work:

– Each participating team will share 50% of the total tournament revenue equally, amounting to 2.5% each
– The remaining 50% will be shared according to team performance, determined by a new European Rugby Performance Points Index (ERPPI) for each match
– The number of ERRPIs accrued by each team over the course of the season will determine their share of the remaining revenue:
– Each match won will earn 10 ERPPIs for that team
– Every try scored will earn 10 ERPPIs
– Every two offloads: 2 ERPPIs
– Every yellow card will deduct 2 ERPPIs from a team, whilst a red card will cost 5 ERPPIs
– Each reset scrum: -1 ERPPI
– For every 5 penalties conceded: -1 ERPPI
– A Twitter monitor for each match will award 3 ERPPIs to the team that gets the most mentions during the game

“For the first time ever, we are linking performance on the pitch to performance off the pitch, and that’s got to be the way forward in Europe. We are all businesses now, and the best performing teams have to be rewarded appropriately.”


Heineken have agreed to continue sponsoring the top tier event, to be known simply as Heineken European Rugby.

“We’re excited to continue our support of the Champions League of Rugby” commented Heineken’s press office. “The glamorous new tournament, along with the introduction of the Heineken European Rugby Performance Points Index (HERPPIs), is something we’re all looking forward to.”

“Fan interaction will play a big part in our sponsorship activation, and we’re planning to show the realtime acquisition of HERRPIs so that fans can see how their teams are performing.”

“It’s the fairest way to reward clubs financially, according to both results and performance, and if the English or French clubs end up with the most HERRPIs, it’s no more or less than they deserve.”

What do you think of the long-awaited tournament details? Is the introduction of HERPPIs something that interests you?

21 thoughts on “European Cup format for next season revealed

  1. Is anyone else finding the acronym for the performance points very amusing.

    Particularly the sentence: “we’re planning to show the realtime acquisition of HERRPIs”

  2. Well when one cannot agree the solution seems to be to make the format so complicated that nobody understands what is going on, but I am really happy that we will have a competition next year and really excited about a team from SA.

    However I think this is a short-term fix. The English and the French will eventually break away as has happened in all other sports. The Celtic Unions have to concentrate on increasing revenue in order to survive, this is easier said than done. The paradox in Rugby is that the money generated by International rugby to a large extent finances the club game but on the other hand. The quantity of international games and the price of entry is sucking potential revenue from the club game. For a fan cannot afford to do both.

    The SA team is dangerous for super rugby, if the saffers see interest in their country for this new competition they will push for more teams to compete, 4 saffer teams would reopen the door for the French and the English to break away. /i still believe it will happen.

    but great to see a points system being implemented that is really complex and gives the pre-match commentators something to talk about, how much who will get next year. I will laugh if the Scottish teams offloading like madmen, even if they never win a match.

    1. What other sports have the English and French broken away? I’m rather confused by that comment.

      The English and French will play where the money is (commercialism tends to win in the end), but to me that doesn’t mean they’ll break away. As long as fans still want to watch the English/French sides play the Celtic sides, the competition will still need all the teams.

      1. As we’ve raised a bit of a serious point here – I agree with Jacob that the English/French will stick with Ire/Wal/Sco matches if the right commercial value is there. It’s the duty of the Celtic nations to make their product so compelling that the Fre/Eng want to share in it. This will require some input from the Eng/Fre – they’ll need to temper some short term financial gain (“taking a huge chunk of the pot”) with an eye on the longer term benefits of well enough funded Celtic sides. This is always a fine balance, always a tension and happens at all levels e.g. the Eng salary cap does Leics no favours other than keeping the league it plays in from becoming like the Scottish footy premier league.

        The new tournament (the real one, not the one on this page) seems like a decent stab at that to me.

        1. Much of the discussion of this topic is couched in terms of Celtic nations vs. Enlich and french leagues. but I am not sure this is an accurate portrayal.

          While the recent/current restructuring of European competition has been very much about that, I would suggest the relationships are much more nuanced.
          In terms of club size, funding and success the English clubs are I would suggest much closer to the Irish clubs.

          The Welsh and Scottish clubs are comparable, though in recent history the Welsh have been far more successful.

          The elephant in the room is the French. While commercially the english clubs might share (or wish to share) more with the French, the French commercial rights from Canal+ dwarf anything the Aviva can acheive. Additionally, the size of the French salary cap is coming to dominate not just European, but world rugby (just look at Ben Mowen for an example). So far the England setup and the english clubs have managed some resistance, largely due to the firm stance the coaches have taken. The Irish have largely managed to resist the lure of the french salaries as well. However, if we are to see an english club win the European cup will we need to raise the salary cap? While I want to see the players fairly and appropraitely rewarded both for the entertainment they provide and the risk they run in a high contact sport, I think it is detrimental to rugby as a sport if wages in general get to high and particularly if wages in one country or region are significantly higher than elsewhere in the world.

          As an aside, it will be interesting to see how the landscape of this conversation has changed in 3-5 years time in relation to the Irish clubs. Much has been made of the “easier” qualification criteria and the ability to prioritise matches. Does this mean that Irish clubs will struggle to compete in Europe going forward. I can’t wait to see what happens.

          1. Good point Mike – the proof will be in the pudding. If Irish clubs continue to enjoy much greater success than English then at least they’ll have to finally admit it’s down to quality … Oh, I forgot, there will still be the salary cap excuse, more attritional league, etc.

  3. What day is it?

    And a fair play bonus for team with fewest STDs to be multiplied by their herppis score!

  4. Amazing comments! RonBraz, I think you still have a maggot on a little hook stuck in your mouth

  5. A little too close to reality for comfort. Or, I could look at it another way – when “don’t even have to qualify and can rest players” is mentioned in a spoof article it’s because it’s now clearly recognised as the BS argument of the losers it always was….

  6. ….. and in other news the WRU are going to pump £8M per year into the regions to help them chase glory in this magnificent new competition, to be funded by a 10% cut in their jolly and expense bill.

    1. Too close to the truth Matt. Moffet said on Twitter that each six nations jolly for the WRU and hangers on costs 100K. Must be over a million when you add on summer tours, etc. depressing.

      1. Though probably implausible that they would sacrifice any of it for the good of the game … 1/2p playing in Wales or an all expenses paid jolly for a bunch of people taking money out of the game, yep lets have another jolly.

        My view is the national team doing well (and the cashiers being very busy at the Millenium as a result) is actually damaging Welsh rugby in the long run. Lewis sees no correlation between regional and national team performance and can keep them in a choke hold with no consequence. The sooner you can get him out or sideline him the better …. as long as you don’t poach Ritchie, a man who truly understands what it means to be a custodian and steward of the game.

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