Premiership Rugby

Premiership Performances Ranked In The Investec Champions Cup Pool Stage

Premiership Performances Ranked In The Investec Champions Cup Pool Stage

We rank the Premiership teams based on their performances in the 2023-2024 Champions Cup pool stage.

Jan 22, 2024
Premiership Performances Ranked In The Investec Champions Cup Pool Stage

The Premiership contingent put in a valiant showing in the 2023-2024 Investec Champions Cup pool stage, with six teams qualifying for the knockouts.

The Northampton Saints were the only side remaining unbeaten, though the English teams still achieved a 59.4% win percentage, considerably outperforming the Top 14 and the URC.

It’s a positive sign that offers hope of future glory, though in truth, only a few teams really can do some damage in the knockouts.

Here, we separate the flyers from the frauds by ranking the Premiership teams based on their performances in the Champions Cup pool stage:

Northampton Saints 

Across four rounds of Champions Cup action, the Northampton Saints proved they have all the tools to go the distance.

Their comeback win over Toulon and dominant performances against Glasgow Warriors and Bayonne showcased the attacking prowess the side now possesses, but it was their most recent win at Thomond Park, toppling Munster in the pouring rain, that truly showed their pedigree.

Despite being a man down for much of the game, the Saints rallied and managed to come from behind to beat the reigning URC champions in their own backyard. They’re without question the most in-form English side.


If you remove Toulouse's drubbing in early December, Harlequins has been one of the most exciting teams to watch in the tournament.

They’ve battered Cardiff and Ulster into submission in successive weeks, scoring length-of-the-field tries with little fuss. 

The exhibitionist style of play the Londoners put on, spearheaded by the ever-mercurial Marcus Smith, is a joy to watch when it’s fully flowing and has made for some of the most exciting rugby of the competition.

Harlequins' comeback win in Paris against Racing showed the squad has more about it than just an all-out attack and can muster pressure when put in a corner.

Exeter Chiefs 

No one thought the Exeter Chiefs would be this good. And yet, the youngsters from Devon have shown they belong with the European elite, securing a home last-16 tie against Premiership rival Bath.

Brushing aside Munster at Sandy Park was a worthwhile achievement, but in truth, the calling card for the side in the last two months has been the clutch kicking of Henry Slade, who has slotted it from the touchline on two occasions to topple Toulon and the Glasgow Warriors.

Exeter has towed the lucky line at times, but ultimately, it’s the Chiefs' grit that carried them through. That's why, despite the heavy loss to Bayonne in Round 4, they should be acknowledged as a dark horse in the knockouts.


Like Exeter, Bath went into the final round of the pool stage with a perfect record. But, just like their West Country rivals, they came up short Sunday, losing to Toulouse in a real nailbiter.

The fact that Bath tied the game for much of the second half is a testament to its genuine class in putting the tournament favorite, Toulouse, under a lot of pressure.

With Finn Russell marshalling things, Bath quickly has transformed into a genuine juggernaut capable of beating any opponent. 

Bath's power in the scrum will be an important tool when taking on Exeter in the next round. 


Last season, Saracens was the Premiership's best shot at winning European silverware. Flash forward a year, and Saracens is fortunate to still be in contention.

Dubs over a struggling Connacht side and a second-string Lyon outfit hardly have set the rugby world alight. In fact, it’s the games Saracens lost that have caught the eye more.

The brutal cutdown by Bordeaux Bègles was particularly striking, as the French flyers ripped apart the Saracens backline, scoring a multitude of beautiful tries that made the north London club look like a relative newcomer, not a three-time champion. They’ll reconvene with Bordeaux in the next round.

Leicester Tigers 

Of all the English teams that have qualified for the knockouts, the Leicester Tigers have done so in the least convincing fashion. 

Admittedly, they haven’t had an easy draw, but notwithstanding that, they were completely outplayed by La Rochelle and were picked apart by a Leinster side that never left second gear.

The win at home over the Stormers was perhaps their best result, while their away win over Stade Francais has been made to look less impressive, given the dire form of the Parisians in the Champions Cup.

They’ll face a monumental challenge when they reunite with Leinster in the knockouts.

Sale Sharks 

After the Sale Sharks’ loss to La Rochelle, their head coach, Alex Sanderson, admitted the side was a long way off being truly competitive with the European elite. The loss meant Sale failed to qualify for the Round of 16 for the second successive year, which is a dire state of affairs for last season’s Premiership finalists.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The northerners fought with weakened squads against the Stormers and Leinster, managing to dominate the first half against the Irish province.

However, that means nothing if you don’t get wins on the board, and Sale will need to fix that when they re-enter the competition next autumn.

Bristol Bears 

The Bristol Bears only managed to seal one win in the pool stages against Lyon, and they really had to work for it, narrowly edging the tie, thanks to Callum Sheedy’s last-gasp drop goal. 

It was all downhill from there, as Pat Lam’s side suffered successive losses to Bordeaux, Bulls and Connacht.

There always was a chance they could have bested Connacht had they kept 15 men on the field, but such hypotheticals are pointless when Bristol showed limited substance throughout their four matches.