European Professional Club Rugby

Investec Champions Cup And EPCR Challenge Cup Fixtures Released

Investec Champions Cup And EPCR Challenge Cup Fixtures Released

Investec Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup fixture list for the 2023/24 season have been confirmed, with last season's finalists facing off in round one.

Jul 13, 2023 by Philip Bendon
Investec Champions Cup And EPCR Challenge Cup Fixtures Released

European professional club rugby’s two biggest tournaments the Investec Champions and EPCR Challenge Cups will return on December 10th 2023. 

Right from the off the competition will be at full tilt as back-to-back Champions Cup winners La Rochelle face-off with the team they defeated in those two finals in Leinster Rugby. 

Meeting at the Stade Marcel Deflandre in La Rochelle, the two European giants will renew what is fast becoming the fiercest rival in European Rugby. 

Winning the past two final by a combined four points, the margins are razor thin between the two sides. As of yet, the Irish giants have not defeated their French foes who also sent them packing in the 2020/21 semi-final. 

Thus, the Dubliners will be out for sweet revenge whilst La Rochelle will look to reassert their dominance. More crucially however both sides will know that a victory in round one will set them up for success in Pool 4 and with it a more preferable play-off run. 

For the Champions, whilst it does not get any tougher than hosting Leinster in round one. They will follow that clash with a trip to Cape Town to face United Rugby Championship finalists the DHL Stormers, before hosting two time Cup winners the Leicester Tigers in round three. Closing out their pool campaign against Premiership finalists the Sale Sharks at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford on the outskirts of Manchester. 

For Leinster there pool action after round one will see them at home in Rounds 2 and 3 against Sale Sharks and Stade Francais Paris respectively before travelling to Mattioli Woods Welford Road in Round 4 to tackle long-time rivals Leicester. 

EPCR Chairman, Dominic McKay, said: “We are delighted to announce the details of EPCR’s 2023/24 tournament pool stage fixtures five months before the tournaments get under way again in December. This has been a collaborative process and we thank the clubs, leagues and our broadcast partners for their assistance in finalising the schedule in such a short period of time. We know the fans will be hugely excited about the fixtures and they are now able to plan their weekends well in advance. There are some intriguing clashes in the pool stages with world-class rugby for all to see.” 

In Pool One, reigning Gallagher Premiership champions and three times Investec Champions Cup winners Saracens are the top seeds. The Londoners will face a stiff challenge first up as they travel to Pretoria to take on the Vodacom Bulls on Highveld at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. Mark McCarll’s side will then face off against URC semi-finalists Connacht in round two and French Top 14 powerhouse Lyon at home in rounds two and four. In-between these fixtures, Sarris will travel to Top 14 semi-finalists Bordeaux-Begles in what will be a mouth-watering clash. 

Pool Two is headlined by French Top 14 champions Toulouse who defeated La Rochelle in dramatic fashion when they met in the recent Top 14 final. The most successful club in the competition’s history will be out to reclaim the title they last won in the 2020/21 season. Facing them in pool action are one time European Champions Ulster, Welsh URC side Cardiff and Premiership side Harlequins RFC. 

Completing the pool action are Pool Three top seeds in two-time tournament winners and last season’s URC champions, Munster Rugby who will be at Thomond Park for their Round 1 and Round 4 fixtures against newcomers, Aviron Bayonnais, and Northampton Saints respectively. While in Rounds 2 and 3 the Irish province will be on the road to face Exeter Chiefs and the 2023 EPCR Challenge Cup winners, RC Toulon in Pool 3. 

Investec Champions Cup And Challenge Cup Fixtures

Meanwhile, in the EPCR Challenge Cup, debutants Cell C Sharks will have home advantage in Rounds 1 and 3 for their meetings with Section Paloise and last season’s PRO D2 winners, Oyonnax Rugby, with both fixtures live on SuperSport and beIN SPORTS. In Round 2 they will go head-to-head with South African rivals, the Toyota Cheetahs, in Bloemfontein on Sunday 17 December before concluding their Pool 1 campaign against Dragons RFC at Rodney Parade on Sunday 21 January. 

Black Lion, who are the first Georgian club to compete in one of EPCR’s main professional competitions, kick off their Pool 3 schedule on Saturday 9 December when they host Gloucester Rugby at the 27,000-capacity Mikheil Meskhi Stadium in Tbilisi live on, Viaplay-Premier Sports and beIN SPORTS. 

The Georgians will then be away in Rounds 2 and 3 against the Scarlets and Castres Olympique respectively ahead of their Round 4 clash at home against three-time tournament winners, ASM Clermont Auvergne. 

Clermont’s schedule sees them up against Edinburgh Rugby at Stade Marcel-Michelin in Round 1 on Friday 8 December live on beIN SPORTS and Viaplay-Premier Sports, followed by an away fixture at Gloucester, and a home tie against the Scarlets before they travel to Tbilisi to face Black Lion in Round 4. 

Another previous tournament winner, Montpellier Hérault Rugby, open their Pool 2 campaign against the Newcastle Falcons at Kingston Park on Sunday 10 December before back-to-back home fixtures against the Ospreys and the Emirates Lions, and then in Round 4, they will be on the road to Treviso where Benetton Rugby, who reached the semi-finals last season, will provide the opposition. 

The fixture schedules were determined by using an algorithm which took into consideration the new, improved tournament formats, the outcome of the pool draws, league calendar restrictions, individual club calendar restrictions and broadcast requirements. 

2023/24 weekends

Round 1 – 8/9/10 December 2023

Round 2 – 15/16/17 December 2023

Round 3 – 12/13/14 January 2024

Round 4 – 19/20/21 January 2024

Round of 16 – 5/6/7 April 2024

Quarter-finals – 12/13/14 April 2024

Semi-finals – 3/4/5 May 2024

EPCR Challenge Cup final – Friday 24 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Champions Cup final – Saturday 25 May 2024, Tottenham Hotspur Stadium