After eight long months of waiting, Europe’s most prestigious club competition returns with a bang this weekend as the quarter-finals of the Heineken Champions Cup get under way.

Europe’s elite eight take to the field in the competition for the first time since January, in what promises to be a captivating weekend of knockout rugby.

Here re-cap how 20 teams became eight following four months of rip-roaring pool-stage action. 

Champions Cup quarter-final previews

Find out how to watch all four games live on BT Sport, as well as the latest team news in our match-by-match guides.


In a season that has seen the club docked points and relegated to the Championship for salary cap breaches, the Champions Cup has suddenly become top priority - but it's been far from plain-sailing for Mark McCall's side.

The 2019/20 winners finished second in pool four, securing the eighth and final seed for the quarter-finals.

The defence of their crown began with a humbling defeat to Racing as the French giants ran riot in Paris, securing a bonus-point victory in the worst possible start for Sarries.

But McCall's men bounced back with victory over pool-whipping boys Ospreys, as Sarries speedster Rotimi Segun stole the show at Allianz Park.

The 24-year-old scored two and set up another as the north Londonders got their campaign back on track.

Defeat to Munster at Thomond Park two weeks later threatened to completely extinguish Saracens' European aspirations, but the London side produced a combative performance in the reverse fixture to leave them clinging onto their quest for a fourth European Cup in five years. 

Tries from Mako Vunipola and Sean Maitland were enough to give the champions a 15-6 victory in what was a bruising contest throughout. Ospreys were duly dispatched in the penultimate round, to set up an epic must-win match against tournament favourites Racing 92 at Allianz Park.

Needing a victory to snatch the last quarter-final spot, Saracens raced into a 14-point lead with just 12 minutes gone. 

But Racing, marshalled by Scotland fly-half Finn Russell, quickly rallied to peg Saracens back with three tries of their own and went into half-time with a narrow four-point advantage at the break.

With Sarries on the brink, two of their biggest names stepped up to turn the game on its head as Maro Itoje crashed over the whitewash before Owen Farrell kicked a 75th-minute penalty to snatch the eighth and final quarter-final spot.

Several Saracens have committed their long-term future to the club since the competition's suspension, none bigger than Farrell and Itoje, both former European Player of the Year winners.

Watch Leinster v Saracens from 2.30pm on Saturday 19 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.


2019's beaten finalists began last season as the team to beat and the Irish province quickly put their St James' Park heartbreak behind them with a bonus-point win over Benetton in Dublin. 

Leo Cullen's side made it two from two a week later, producing a typically ruthless display to grind out victory away at Lyon to top pool one.

Round three saw a trip to England and Franklin's Gardens for the first of their back-to-back matches against Northampton Saints.

The four-time European Cup winners signalled their intent on avenging their final heartbreak at the hands of Saracens with an astonishing 43-16 win over their Premiership opposition.

Outscored by seven tries to one on their home patch, Saints fared no better in Dublin a week later as Leinster once again racked up seven tries and half a century of points to lay down an imposing marker and become the first team to book their place in the knockout stages. 

Routine victories over Benetton and Lyon in their final two fixtures ensured Leinster qualified as top seeds for the last eight unbeaten, boasting the best points difference in the competition and the most tries scored (28).

Having tied two of their old guard down until the end of the current campaign, in the shape of full-back Rob Kearney and centre Fergus McFadden, Cullen's men warmed up for Saracens with an emphatic 27-5 over fellow quarter-finalists Ulster to lift their third successive PRO14 title.  

Will it prove to be the first half of a domestic and European double?

Watch Leinster v Saracens from 2.30pm on Saturday 19 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.

Exeter Chiefs

Having swept all before them on English shores, it's no surprise that many are tipping the Chiefs to finally translate their success to the continent and break their European hoodoo.

The Devonians have never progressed past the quarter-final stages, but Rob Baxter's men were in ominous European form before the competition's suspension and their return to action in the Premiership shows they've lost none of their hunger for silverware. 

Having failed to earn a place in the knockout stages last season the Chiefs were taking no chances this time round as their pool campaign opened up with a visit to France to play La Rochelle. 

What was a daunting task on paper proved anything but, as Exeter put on a clinic of attacking rugby to run out bonus-point victors and establish themselves as top dogs in pool two. 

The Chiefs would not relinquish control of top spot in the pool, winning four out their five remaining games with a thrilling 31-31 draw away at Glasgow Warriors the only blot on their Champions Cup copybook.

Baxter's charges ended the pool stages in identical fashion to how they began, thrashing La Rochelle in a bonus-point win that guaranteed them a home quarter-final at fortress Sandy Park with Premiership rivals Northampton Saints standing between them and a place in the last four.

The Chiefs have signed Scotland lock Jonny Gray from Glasgow Warriors, back Josh Hodge from Newcastle Falcons and wing Facundo Cordero – brother of Santiago – from Argentinian club side Los Ceibos.

In addition, long-serving fly-half Gareth Steenson and back Phil Dollman have agreed short-term contract extensions to boost the squad even further.

Watch Exeter v Northampton from 5.15pm on Sunday 20 September, live on BT Sport 3HD and BT Sport Ultimate.

Racing 92

Despite finding themselves in the pool of death alongside Munster and Saracens, the Parisians proved to be undisputed kings of entertainment, leading the competition for clean breaks, metres gained and defenders beaten.

Marshalled by Scotland fly-half Finn Russell, Racing's cast of blockbuster talent racked up 26 tries in the pool stages, second only to Leinster's 28. 

The Top 14 giants opened up the campaign with a bang as they ran in four tries in a bonus-point victory over defending champions Saracens. 

All eyes were again on pool one a week later as Racing travelled to fortress Thomond Park to face two-time European Cup winners Munster. 

In front of a capacity crowd of 25,000, the two sides fought out a pulsating 21-21 draw to leave the pool wide open. 

Racing would remain undefeated over the next three rounds, with back-to-back victories over Ospreys and an impressive 39-22 win over Munster who would go on to crash out before the quarter-finals for the first time in four years.

Laurent Travers' charges would not taste defeat until the final round where Saracens produced a do-or-die display to win at Allianz Park and join the visitors in the last eight.

Racing have limited their signings to versatile Australia back Kurtley Beale from Waratahs, Australian lock Luke Jones from Rebels and full-back Donovan Taofifenua from ASM Clermont Auvergne. 

Meanwhile, full-back Brice Dulin and prop Ben Tameifuna have left the club for La Rochelle and  Bordeaux-Bègles respectively.  

Watch Clermont v Racing from 5.15pm on Saturday 19 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.

Northampton Saints

Saints kicked off their European campaign with a clinical display against Lyon as Wales fly-half Dan Biggar kicked the Premiership outfit to victory on the opening weekend. 

Biggar was once again Northampton's saviour a week later, as the Welshman nailed a last-gasp penalty deep into added time to snatch victory away a gutsy Benetton.

Back-to-back hammerings at the hands of tournament favourites Leinster threatened to extinguish Saints' European hopes as Chris Boyd's men conceded 93 points across a nightmare two-week period. 

With their hopes of reaching the knockout stages hanging by a thread, the East Midlanders were left requiring maximum points from their last two games to have any chance of making the final eight. 

At the turn of the year Saints completed the double over Italian minnows Benetton to set up a winner-takes-all clash in France against French juggernauts Lyon. 

The Saints had not won on French soil since 2011, but another fly-half masterclass from Biggar hauled his side from a 17-6 half-time deficit to a famous bonus-point win with the aid of tries from George Furbank and James Fish enough to seal one of the three best runner-up spots.

Since scraping into the last eight, the 2011 finalists have lost South Africa scrum-half Cobus Reinach to Montpellier but have signed back-row forward Shaun Adendorff from Aurillac and loose–head prop Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi from London Irish. 

Saints have also re-signed flanker Jamie Gibson, who was initially released in June, and taken forward Nick Isiekwe on loan from Saracens.    

Watch Exeter v Northampton from 5.15pm on Sunday 20 September, live on BT Sport 3HD and BT Sport Ultimate.

Champions Cup quarter-final TV times

Saturday, 2.30pm - Leinster v Saracens - BT Sport 3

Saturday, 5.15pm  - Racing v Clermont - BT Sport 3

Sunday, 12pm - Toulouse v Ulster - BT Sport 3

Sunday, 5.15pm - Exeter v Northampton - BT Sport 3 & Ultimate


Four-time winners Toulouse were one of only two sides to win all six pool matches this season.

The French giants topped pool five by a whopping 13 points, comfortably ahead of nearest challengers Gloucester, and their free-flowing brand of rugby lit up the competition before its suspension. 

The two sides played out an epic tussle to raise the curtain on the pool stages way back in November as Toulouse turned around a 20-9 half-time deficit to eventually defeat Gloucester 25-20 at Kingsholm Stadium.

Back-to-back victories at the Stade Ernest Wallon followed, before Toulouse returned to the road for their reverse fixture against Top 14 rivals Montpellier. 

Ugo Mota's side ran out 26-18 winners to take a stranglehold of pool five.

Toulouse rounded off the Heineken Champions Cup pool stages with a commanding 35-14 win over Gloucester, securing a home quarter-final in the process.  

Major recruitment has been restricted to the signings of Australian second row Richie Arnold, who joins brother Rory at the TOP 14 club, and La Rochelle scrum-half Alexi Balès. 

However, Richie Gray (Glasgow Warriors), Florian Verhaeghe (Montpellier), Sébastien Bézy (ASM Clermont Auvergne) and Gillian Galan (Lyon) have all left the four-time European Cup winners.

Watch Toulouse v Ulster from midday on Sunday 20 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.


Is this finally the year that perennial nearly men Clermont end their Champions Cup hoodoo? 

All of the club's European success has come in the Challenge Cup, a trophy they have won three times.

But their record in Europe's premier club competition makes for more difficult reading. Three times they have made the Champions Cup final and three times they have lost – twice to Toulon in 2013 and 2015 and once to Saracens in 2017.

Clermont's 2019/20 campagin got off to a slow start as they fell behind Ulster in pool three after an 18-13 defeat to the Irish province in round two.

But the French outfit bounced back to win all of their remaining matches including a 29-13 win over Ulster in the reverse fixture in round five to bag top spot and an all-important home quarter-final.

Clermont have seen several key players depart, including Georgian prop Davit Zirakashvili (retired), Scotland scrum-half Greig Laidlaw (Japan) and English full-back Nick Abendanon (Vannes).

However, they have welcomed scrum-half Sébastien Bézy from Toulouse, Fijian prop Peni Ravai, ex-France hooker Adrien Pélissié from Bordeaux-Bègles and Japan wing Kotaro Matsushima.

Watch Clermont v Racing from 5.15pm on Saturday 19 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.


Having qualified for the knockout stages of the competition for the first time since 2014 last year, Ulster will make back-to-back appearances in the last eight when they take on Toulouse this weekend. 

Placed in an intimidating pool alongside Challenge Cup winners Clermont plus Premiership sides Bath and Harlequins, Ulster's campaign got off to a dramatic start with a nail-biting one-point victory at the Rec.

The away side produced a gargantuan defensive performance to repel Bath on the line and deny the Premiership side a last-minute win. 

The Pro14 finalists made it two from two a week later as scrum-half John Cooney scored 13 points in a surprise 18-13 victory over pool three favourites Clermont.

Consecutive victories over Harlequins in rounds three and four put the Irishmen in pole position in pool three with a home quarter-final seemingly in touching distance.

However, defeat away at Clermont in the penultimate round of the pool stages handed the intiative to their French counterparts, leaving Ulster with no guarantees of a place in the last eight.

Ultimately McFarland's men made sure of qualification for the last eight with a seven-point victory over already-eliminated Bath, but it was not enough to secure a home quarter-final as Ulster were forced to make do with the best runner-up spot.

Watch Toulouse v Ulster from midday on Sunday 20 September, live on BT Sport 3HD.