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European Rugby Challenge Cup: Dates, venues & how to watch

After Toulon won the 2022/23 title the focus has now switched to the 2023/24 European Rugby Challenge Cup campaign as 18 teams from across Europe and South Africa battle it out for the trophy.

Europe's second-tier competition has a proud history going back to the turn of the professional era in rugby union and all sides involved will be determined to get their hands on the trophy in May 2024.

The 18 teams are split into three pools, with the top four teams from Pools 1, 2 and 3. progressing to the knockout stage of the competition. 

Previously just for teams in Europe, the competition has expanded to teams in South Africa.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Dates

This year's competition will kick-off on Friday 8th December as Clermont host Edinburgh and follows a similar calendar to the European Rugby Champions Cup. 

The Pool stage will held over four weekends, the last of which is the weekend of Friday 19th January 2024.

The round of 16 will take place over the three days from Friday 5th April, with the quarter-finals the following weekend.

The semi-finals will take place between Friday 3rd and Sunday 5th May before the final at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday 24th May 2024.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Venues

The Pool stages of the competition will take place across the home grounds of all 18 clubs involved, with matches to be played in England, France, Georgia, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales.

The round of 16 and quarter-finals will be played on home grounds decided by the draw, before neutral venues are introduced for the semi-finals.

The final of the European Rugby Challenge Cup will take place at a venue yet to be confirmed on Friday 24th May 2024.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Format

The 18 teams competing have been split into three groups of six, with the fixtures organised in a way that means they will not face a team from their own competition.

For instance, French clubs Oyonnax and Pau have been drawn together in Pool 1, but will face the other teams in their group once and avoid playing each other.

The top four in each pool will progress to the round of 16 and will be joined by the four clubs who finished fifth in their European Rugby Champions Cup groups.

It is a straight knockout from the Round of 16 onwards, with the one-off ties concluded with the final.

How to Watch the European Rugby Challenge Cup

The competition will be available to watch via TNT Sport across the UK and also on S4C in Wales. 

Subcribers to the tournament's official website will also be able to stream games online.

European Rugby Challenge Cup History

Including the first 1996/97 season, there have been 27 previous European Rugby Challenge Cup campaigns, with the 2023/24 edition the 28th.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Most Wins

There have been 18 different winners of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, with French outfit Bourgoin becoming the first champions in the 1996/97 season.

The first four winners of the competition came from France, with Colomiers, Clermont and Pau following in Bourgoin's success.

Harlequins became the first English champions in 2000/01, with six other English clubs also getting their hands on the trophy.

Quins and Clermont are the clubs to have won the European Rugby Challenge Cup the most, with both sides getting their hands on the trophy on three occasions.

Toulon are the reigning champions after beating Glasgow Warriors 43-19 in last season's final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

European Rugby Challenge Cup Odds and Favourites

Once again the French sides will be expected to go far in this season's competition.

The last three seasons of the European Rugby Challenge Cup have seen the winners come from France in the form of Montpellier, Lyon and Toulon.

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