When it comes to rugby union in Europe there are 6 different countries who compete (some would argue 5!) An in terms of importance there are 4 main competitions.
The English Premiership – Which is made up of 12 teams competing against each other annually. The competition has been played since 1987, and has evolved into the current Premiership competition. The current champions are Saracens, while Leicester Tigers are the most successful team over the years with 10 wins.
The French Top 14 – The top of the national league system operated by the French National Rugby League. It’s an annual competition and Toulouse is the most successful club in the competition with 20 titles.
The Pro14, known as the Guinness PRO14 is an annual competition involving professional sides from Ireland, Italy, Scotland, South Africa and Wales. Leinster are the most successful team in the PRO 14 with 6 titles. While in championship wins by country Ireland teams lead with 11 wins.
The European Champions Cup – Is the top-tier competition for clubs whose countries’ national teams compete in the annual Six Nations. Clubs qualify for the Heineken Champions Cup via their final positions in their respective national/regional leagues, Premiership, TOP 14, and Guinness Pro14) or via winning the second-tier Challenge Cup.. Those who don’t make the Champions Cup are eligible to compete in the second-tier Challenge Cup.
When determining the most successful teams in Europe, the Champions Cup carries by far the biggest wighting.
10. Ulster (Tie)
The Northern Irish team have 1 Champions Cup title which they won in 1999, they we runners up in 2012. Ulster have also won the Pro14 once (2006) and are twice runners up.
North Hampton Saints (Tie)
The English club have also won one championship, in 2000 and were runner up once. They won the premiership once which ties them with Ulster.
The English side have only one once in 1998 and failed to make any other finals, however were giving them the number 8 spot ahead Ulster and the Saints because of their 6 Premiership Rugby titles.
The English club have won 2 Champions Cups titles in 2004 and 2007, they also equal baths record of 6 Premiership wins.
The super popular Irish team have won 2 finals and lost 2. They won the championship in 2006 and 2008. They have also won the lesser Pro 14, 3 times and were runners up 4 times over the years.
The French giants are known as the richest rugby club in the world which has helped them the Champions Cup 3 times so far and won the French Top 14, 4 times between the years 1913 and 2014.
4. Leicester Tigers
The English Tigers won twice in 2001 and 2002 and have an impressive record of making finals being 3 times runner up in the Champions Cup. Their 10 Premiership titles and history of 5 finals in Champions Cup puts them ahead of Toulon
This big spending English power house have dominated the Champions Cup over the past few years, winning 3 titles, in 2016, 2017 and 2019. They were runners up in 2014. They are arguably the most successful rugby club in Europe since 2014, also winning the English Premiership 4 times between 2011 and 2019.
Next up its the legendary Irish side who started on a massive winning streak in 2007. They have won the Champions Cup 4 times, in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2018. Leinster were runners up when they lost to Saracens in the 2019 final. Leinster also have a great history in the Pro 14 with a record 6 wines between 2001 and 2019 and have been runners up 6 times.
Leinster had chance to even the score with Toulose at the 2022 Champions Cup final but were beaten 21-24 by La Rochelle.
The French big spenders have one more title than Leinster, with 5 Champions Cup wins in 1996, 2003, 2005, 2010 and 2021. They have a better record of making the final though, being twice runners up in 2004 and 2008. Toulouse have really dominated their internal French league, The Top 14, winning it a record 21 times!
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