The 2022/23 Heineken Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup finals in Dublin were two brilliant rugby spectacles and a fitting end to a gripping season of EPCR competitions.
Stade Rochelais’ sensational comeback against Leinster Rugby saw them clinch the Heineken Champions Cup for a second successive year, treating a sold-out Aviva Stadium – 51,711 fans – to an exhilarating game.
Meanwhile, RC Toulon made history as they secured the EPCR Challenge Cup for the first time with a superb win over Glasgow Warriors in front of over 31,000 supporters.
Fans were hooked by the quality of rugby on show, with social engagement rising by 79% compared to the 2022 EPCR Finals.
In a further sign of the two competitions’ strength, the eight EPCR weekends over the course of the season attracted over 60 million viewers and 1.5 million fans at stadiums.
EPCR Chairman Dominic McKay hailed the turnout at the finals as well as over the course of the campaign, picking out the semi-finals – particularly La Rochelle’s semi-final win against Exeter Chiefs at a sold-out Matmut ATLANTIQUE – as one of the standout moments.
“That’s testament to the scale and size of these two huge competitions,” he said. “We’ve got over one million people through the turnstiles to watch the Heineken Champions Cup this season alone, which is as big as it has been in over 10 years.
Can we take a minute to appreciate the atmosphere at the Aviva on Saturday 🤯
One of the best in recent years?
More exclusive BTS content on the #HeinekenChampionsCup TikTok channel 👉 https://t.co/5XfCnVfZTO pic.twitter.com/YvesxhTm4T
— Heineken Champions Cup (@ChampionsCup) May 25, 2023
“To sell out the Heineken Champions Cup in January is crazy, and that’s thanks to the team at EPCR and all the fans for coming along.”
“The semi-finals were amazing. 125,000 spectators across both Heineken Champions Cup games and in the two EPCR Challenge Cup games were some great figures.
“The experience I had in Bordeaux was as good a rugby experience as I’ve had in any city in any country. It was fantastic and we’d love to replicate more of that in the future because the competition deserves it.”
McKay underlined the growth EPCR enjoyed this season, with the addition of South African clubs for the first time boosting the quality and reach of the two competitions.
“The key thing I want to stress is the progress we’re making, in terms of the competition bouncing back in the last few years,” he said.
“It is an enormous competition, and you get a sense of that particularly around the quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. It reminds everyone of the size and the scale of the competition and its success.
“Importantly, it’s the fact that the players love it – they absolutely adore the competition. It is the pinnacle of world club rugby.
“The Heineken Champions Cup has been the one to win for many years and it continues to be that way. Interestingly, it’s now the one to win for even more countries with South African clubs joining.
“That love affair with rugby in South Africa is now going to focus like a laser on the Heineken Champions Cup.
“There’s more clubs wanting to be the champions and that can only be great for rugby and great for our supporters.”