Last season's Champions Cup finalists Leinster and La Rochelle to clash againJul 13 | 1 min read
BT Sport will continue to broadcast every game from the Heineken Champions Cup after agreeing a new multi-year partnership with EPCR.
As lead broadcaster in the UK and Ireland since 2015, BT Sport will continue to televise the pool and knockout stages of Europe's premier club competition until the conclusion of the 2023/24 season, plus select games from the EPCR Challenge Cup.
Less than a month on from La Rochelle's historic triumph over Leinster in the final of the Heineken Champions Cup, focus turns to the 2022/23 campaign and the biggest shake up to the tournament for a generation.
For the first time in the competition's history, the upcoming season will feature teams from the southern hemisphere, as three South African clubs join the race to be crowned kings of Europe.
EPCR Chairman, Dominic McKay: “Following on from what was a magnificent finals weekend in Marseille last May, we are delighted to continue to work with BT Sport, who have delivered incredible coverage of, and growing audiences for, our competitions.
"It is also significant we welcome three free-to-air partners on board in ITV, RTE and S4C, who will deliver for us in terms of viewership growth, innovation and profile in key markets as we welcome South African clubs into the EPCR fold.
“BT Sport, ITV, RTE and S4C complete our broadcast partnerships in the key markets of the UK and Ireland, and with beIN SPORTS and France Télévisions in France, SuperSport in South Africa and FloSports in the USA, we are looking forward to bringing the pinnacle of international club rugby to more audiences than ever before.”
Rachel Knight, sports rights director, BT Sport, added: “Today’s news means BT Sport remains the home of club rugby in the UK and Ireland, offering unrivalled coverage from the Heineken Champions Cup and the EPCR Challenge Cup, plus, multiple live matches every week from Gallagher Premiership Rugby.”
Last month, BT Group and Warner Bros Discovery completed their transaction to form a 50-50 joint venture that combines the assets of BT Sport and Eurosport UK.
As the joint venture works to develop a new sports offering for the UK and Ireland, BT Sport and Eurosport UK will retain their separate product propositions and customers can continue to enjoy the sport offerings in all the same ways as they do currently.
On the pitch, all eyes will be on the competition's newcomers as Stormers, Bulls and Sharks join European rugby's elite.
The Stormers will be looking to upset the apple cart just months after beating compatriots Bulls to end Leinster's four-year stranglehold over the United Rugby Championship.
Meanwhile Ronan O'Gara's La Rochelle will be looking to go back-to-back after winning their first piece of silverware in the club's history.
Elsewhere Leinster will have revenge on their minds after ending the season trophyless for the first time since 2017, while two-time winners Saracens are back on the European stage after two years away.
It all makes for a compelling pool stage as the great and good of European rugby discover renew battle.
Heineken Champions Cup pools 2022/23
Pool A (with opponents in brackets)
Castres (Exeter Chiefs and Edinburgh)
Saracens (Lyon and Edinburgh)
Bulls (Lyon and Exeter Chiefs)
Bordeaux-Begles (Gloucester and Sharks)
Harlequins (Racing and Sharks)
Leinster (Racing and Gloucester)
Racing (Harlequins and Leinster)
Gloucester (Bordeaux and Leinster)
Lyon (Saracens and Bulls)
Exeter (Castres and Bulls)
Edinburgh (Castres and Saracens)
Pool B (with opponents in brackets)
Montpellier (London Irish and Wasps)
Leicester (Clermont and Ospreys)
Stormers (Clermont and London Irish)
Toulouse (Sale Sharks and Munster)
Northampton (La Rochelle and Munster)
Ulster (La Rochelle and Sale Sharks)
La Rochelle (Northampton and Ulster)
Sale Sharks (Toulouse and Ulster)
Munster (Toulouse and Northampton)
Clermont (Leicester and Stormers)
London Irish (Montpellier and Stormers)
Ospreys (Montpellier and Leicester)
How does the Heineken Cup pool stage work?
The 24 qualified clubs were placed into four tiers based on their finishes from the Top 14, Gallagher Premiership and the United Rugby Championship.
Those teams were then divided into two pools of 12 - Pool A and Pool B.
The number one and two ranked teams in each domestic competition have been placed in Tier 1.
Teams that finished third and fourth in their domestic leagues are in Tier 2, with fifth and sixth in Tier 3 and seventh and eighth-placed sides completing Tier 4.
Clubs from Tier 1 and 4 were drawn in the same pool and will play one another home and away over four pool-stage rounds - as long as they are not from the same domestic league.
The six highest-ranked clubs from each pool, as well as the 9th and 10th ranked clubs from each pool, will qualify for a Round of 16.
The 2022/23 season will be played over eight weekends with four rounds of matches in the pool stage starting in December.
The knockouts include a round of 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals, culminating in the Dublin finals at the Aviva Stadium May 20, 2023.
Key dates for 2022/23 season
Round 1: December 9-11
Round 2: December 16-18
Round 3: January 13-15
Round 4: January 20-22
Round of 16: Weekend commencing March 31
Quarter-finals: Weekend commencing April 7
Semi-finals: Weekend commencing April 28
Heineken Champions Cup final: Saturday 20 May