Channel 4 will show one live match from each round of European Club Rugby Union’s most prestigious tournament including one quarter-final, a semi-final and the final on 11 May 2019.
Lee McKenzie will present Channel 4’s live coverage and she’ll be joined by a range of top names from the world of rugby union including: World Cup and two-time European champion Bryan Habana; Six Nations and three-time Heineken Cup winner Jamie Heaslip; Welsh rugby star Gareth Thomas who lifted the trophy with Toulouse in 2005 and Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Emily Scarratt. Refereeing legend Nigel Owens MBE will add his unique insight and Miles Harrison will provide commentary.
Ayo Akinwolere and Lee McKenzie will present Channel 4’s hour-long preview programme, The Big Tackle, which will go out in the build-up to each live match. The first show will review Friday night’s tournament opener between reigning champions Leinster and Wasps before looking ahead to the rest of the weekend’s action.
The Heineken Champions Cup features top clubs from the three professional domestic European leagues, all from countries which participate in the Six Nations Championship. Clubs in this elite tournament includes the likes of Saracens, Leinster, Bath, Scarlets, Toulon, Clermont, Exeter Chiefs, Glasgow, Munster and Gloucester.
Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Joe Blake-Turner said: “We’re delighted to welcome back elite European Club rugby to terrestrial television for the first time in 15 years. Two former tournament winners kick off our coverage and in the following rounds we’ll be bringing viewers the cream of European rugby.”
The Big Tackle will preview key clashes from all the pools as well as featuring player video diaries, interviews, special features and behind-the-scenes insights.
Former Dragons forward Ed Jackson will be Channel 4’s specialist reporter throughout the Heineken Champions Cup, a tournament organised by European Professional Club Rugby.
In the first edition of The Big Tackle, Ed will detail how his life changed for ever 18 months ago having broken his neck diving into a swimming pool and the hard journey of recovery he has been on ever since. The Big Tackle will include player video diarists Billy Vunipola of Saracens and Racing 92’s Simon Zebo as well as featuring Gareth Thomas who will talk about winning the Heineken Cup with Toulouse in 2005 and life beyond rugby.
Channel 4’s live coverage of the pool stage will air during October, December and January.
Coverage of all matches begins at 12.30pm with kick off at 1pm. Matches which are currently confirmed are:
- Bath v Toulouse, 13 October
- Munster v Gloucester, 20 October
- Exeter v Gloucester, 8 December
- Cardiff v Saracens, 15 December
- Leinster v Toulouse, 12 January
Notes to editors
European Professional Club Rugby (EPCR) is the organiser of the European Rugby Champions Cup, the European Rugby Challenge Cup and the European Rugby Continental Shield with the stated mission of creating outstanding rugby experiences for all touched by its competitions.
Established in 2014 with headquarters in Switzerland, EPCR has the following shareholders: Federation Francaise de Rugby (FFR), Federazione Italiana Rugby (FIR), Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), Rugby Football Union (RFU), Scottish Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union (WRU), Ligue Nationale de Rugby (LNR), Premiership Rugby (PRL) and Pro Rugby Wales.
The Champions Cup and Challenge Cup feature clubs which have qualified on merit from their respective domestic leagues - the Aviva Premiership, the TOP 14 and the Guinness PRO14, with the latter also featuring two qualifiers from the Continental Shield.
Channel 4 has secured the rights to broadcast one live match from each round of The Champions Cup each season until 2022.