The Heineken Cup is Europe’s premier club rugby competition. The tournament includes sides from Europe’s six biggest rugby playing nations, drawing 24 teams from France, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy.
Clubs qualify for the Heineken Cup by topping their respective domestic leagues. France and England each contribute a third of the clubs participating in the tournament, due to the strength of their domestic club leagues. Wales and Ireland contribute 3 clubs, while Scotland and Italy each submit 2 clubs to the Heineken Cup.
Heineken Cup Betting
The Heineken Cup attracts more coverage from UK bookmakers than any other regional rugby championship. This means that fans and punters are guaranteed access to a wide variety of Heineken Cup betting opportunities during the course of the 8 month long tournament.
A number of ante-post Heineken Cup betting opportunities are available prior to the commencement of the tournament, with bets available on the winners of each pool in the group stages as well as the outright winners.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power offers extensive coverage of each stage of the Heineken Cup, with up to 20 different betting options as well as live betting available for each match.
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Heineken Cup History
The Heineken Cup was conceived during the transformation of rugby into a professional sport. The tournament had modest beginnings and the first final between Toulouse and Cardiff attracted only 21,800 fans. By the turn of the century, however, professional rugby had found its feet in Europe and the Heineken Cup began to attract a greater following.
Attendances increased steadily, along with the quality of rugby on offer, and in 2007 the Heineken Cup final between Wasps and Leicester Tigers drew a crowd of over 80,000 spectators to Twickenham. Today the Heineken Cup unarguably represents the toughest, most demanding knockout tournament in club rugby.
Heineken Cup Winners
The fact that eight different clubs have claimed the Heineken Cup is testament to the competitiveness of the tournament. However, two clubs have distinguished themselves at the highest level of European club rugby. Toulouse have won the competition three times, while England’s Leicester Tigers have claimed two Heineken Cup titles.
Heineken Cup winners Munster also deserve special mention, having reached the finals of the tournament on three occasions. The Irish team has never lost by more than 7 points in any Heineken Cup match, and their success proved to be a massive boost for the game in Ireland.