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

Year Scores Venue
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

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