The European Challenge Cup is governed by ERC, and is the second-tier of European Competition. It is contested annually by sides from England, Ireland, Wales, France, Italy, Romania and occasionally Spain and Portugal, although Welsh representation depends on their sides qualification for the Heineken Cup.
Teams that do not qualify for the Heineken Cup at the end of a league season are entered into the Challenge Cup. They are divided into five Pools of four, with the winners and three best runners-up qualifying for the quarter finals.
French teams dominated the competition in its early years, before Harlequins ended their rule over the tournament in 2001.
European Challenge Cup finals
|1996-97||Bourgoin 18-9 Castres||Stade de la Méditerranée, Béziers|
|1997-98||Colomiers 43-5 Agen||Stade des Sept Deniers, Toulouse|
|1998-99||Montferrand 35-16 Bourgoin||Stade de Gerland, Lyon|
|1999-00||Pau 34-21 Castres||Stade des Sept Deniers, Toulouse|
|2000-01||NEC Harlequins 42-33 Narbonne||Madejski Stadium, Reading|
|2001-02||Sale 25-22 Pontypridd||Kassam Stadium, Oxford|
|2002-03||London Wasps 48-30 Bath||Madejski Stadium, Reading|
|2003-04||NEC Harlequins 27-26 Montferrand||Madejski Stadium, Reading|
|2004-05||Sale 27-3 Pau||Kassam Stadium, Oxford|
|2005-06||Gloucester Rugby 36-34 (aet) London Irish||The Stoop, London|
|2006-07||Clermont Auvergne 22-16 Bath Rugby||The Stoop, London|
|2007-08||Bath Rugby 24-16 Worcester Warriors||Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester|
|2008-09||Northampton 15-3 Bourgoin||The Stoop, London|
|2009-10||Cardiff Blues 28-21 Toulon||Stade Velodrome, Marseille|
|2010-11||Harlequins 19-18 Stade Français||Cardiff City Stadium|
|2011-12||Toulon 18-21 Biarritz||Twickenham Stoop|