Rugby tours with the big names of the Champions and Challenge Cup

While one major European football tournament may be over, in the world of rugby, another one is just about to start. At the Swiss headquarters of EPCR (European Professional Club Rugby: the governing body and event organiser) on 29 June, the draws took place for the initial group stage matches of the 2016/ 2017 EPCR Champions Cup and Challenge Cup tournaments. Established in 2014, these showcase events replaced the former Heineken Cup and European Challenge Cup tournaments which had long been an important focal point in European rugby.

The EPCR Champions Cup is the “top-tier” competition, pitting the very best European clubs against each other. The twenty top-flight teams taking part include six English clubs representing the top six clubs in the Aviva Premiership (including the likes of Saracens and Sale Sharks), and the top six clubs in the French “top 14” (including the mighty Clermont Auvergne and Toulon RC). Running concurrently alongside this, is the well-respected second-tier EPCR Challenge Cup competition which will feature English clubs such as Harlequins, Bath and Gloucester Rugby battling it out with other European contenders.

EPCR Champions Cup

Both competitions start their initial group stage matches in mid-October 2016 and the knock-out stages are played in March / April 2017. The finals will be held at the 67,114 capacity Murrayfield Stadium in Edinburgh on 12 May (Challenge Cup final) and 13 May (Champions Cup final).

We are very proud to offer fantastic pro-club school rugby training tours at many of the clubs featured in these prestigious competitions. These school tours can be adjusted to meet the wants and needs of your school party, but typically can include training with the professional coaching team at the club’s academy or training ground; a Q&A session with a coach and player; behind the scenes stadium tour; friendly matches with academy or feeder teams; a chance to watch the first team in training and the possibility of match day tickets I season. These popular tours give students a real taste of life as a professional player and they often come home inspired and keen to raise the level of their own game.

Our pro-club school rugby training tours are available at many of the leading European clubs featured in the two tournaments. The mighty Saracens for instance are current Champions Cup holders and their flanker, Maro Itoje, was named player of the year in 2016. Meanwhile, French legends Toulon RC won the Champions Cup three times in a row between 2012 and 2015, twice beating  Clermont Auvergne in the final. Toulon’s star players have included former ‘Players of the tournament’ in Fly Half Jonny Wilkinson (2013) and Flanker Steffon Armitage (2014). Harlequins were runners up in the 2015/16 Challenge Cup having won the title three times previously (in 2001, 2004 and 2011). Meanwhile the Parisienne club Racing 92 were runners up in the 2015 / 16 Champions Cup and are seeded for the 2016/2017 tournament, having won the French Top 14 Final last month.

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