As we approach next week’s Heineken Champions Cup draw, we look at the teams returning to Europe’s top flight and highlights of their past appearances in the competition, beginning with three-time champions Saracens.
2013/14: First European Cup final
After reaching two semi-finals – in 2007/08 and 2012/13 – it was third time lucky for the Gallagher Premiership club as they made their first final, despite finishing second in their pool.
A nail-biting 17-15 quarter-final victory over Ulster Rugby in Belfast earned them a semi-final against ASM Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham Stadium, where they demolished the French side 46-6 with six tries, including a brace from Chris Ashton, who had also notched a double in the last eight.
However, they came a cropper in their first final, going down 23-6 to RC Toulon in Cardiff, where two Owen Farrell penalties were their sole response to a Jonny Wilkinson-inspired display from the French team.
2015/16: First European title
Saracens showed they were rapid learners when they reached their second major European final, after winning all six of their pool games, defeating Northampton Saints 29-20 in the quarter-finals and Wasps 24-17 in the semi-finals.
They met French opposition again in the decider, but this time they won a kick-fest against Racing 92 21-9 in Lyon, with Owen Farrell landing seven penalties from seven attempts.
The victory capped an outstanding tournament for the England fly-half, who was the competition’s leading scorer with 127 points, including 19 in the quarter-final and 14 in the semi-final.
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2016/17: Second European title
The English club made it back-to-back European titles after again topping their pool, although a 22-22 draw at Scarlets denied them a 100 per cent record.
However, convincing victories followed in the knockout stages, with Glasgow Warriors being routed 38-13 in London in the quarter-finals and Munster Rugby succumbing 26-10 to Saracens’ power in Dublin.
The London outfit then defeated ASM Clermont Auvergne 28-17 in the final at BT Murrayfield through tries from Chris Ashton, George Kruis and Alex Goode, plus 13 points from Owen Farrell, who was again the tournament’s top scorer, with 126.
2018/19: Third European title
Saracens became the first English club to win the Heineken Champions Cup on three occasions after a 20-10 victory over Leinster Rugby in the final in Newcastle, where they rallied from 10-0 down.
Tries from Sean Maitland and Billy Vunipola as well as 10 points from Owen Farrell saw them make history and left them with an immaculate record for the season.
Six wins from six in the pool stage were followed by a 56-27 home drubbing of Glasgow Warriors in the quarter-final and a 32-16 semi-final victory against Munster Rugby in Coventry, with Alex Lozowski notching 21 points against Glasgow and Farrell 22 versus Munster.